How do other people deal with the torrent of information that pours down on us all? Do they have some secret? Perhaps. We are asking various friends and colleagues who seem well-informed to describe their media diets. This is from an interview with Nell Minow, editor and co-founder of The Corporate Library, which provides research and analysis on corporate governance issues. She also blogs about movies for Beliefnet.com as The Movie Mom.
I come from a long line of news junkies. I grew up in Chicago, which had five newspapers, and we got them all, plus the New York Times. My father's biggest adjustment when he and my mom moved from the suburbs into the city was that since he wasn't taking the train anymore, he couldn't find time to read all his newspapers.
I always, always begin my days with the Washington Post, but it's not what it once was. My number one expectation for the Post is that it last me through a bowl of cereal, and it often doesn't do that anymore--I have to have some magazines as back-up. On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, we also get the New York Times.
When I'm done with breakfast I go to the computer. I work from home and write for various blogs, so I'm always looking for things I can share through those venues. I subscribe to the Wall Street Journal online, so I look at that everyday, along with Slate, Salon, the Daily Beast, and the Huffington Post. What I like about the Huff Post in particular is the way they lead me to other sources.
I write for Beliefnet, so I like to check out their blogs. That's probably my first place for opinions I wouldn't be exposed to otherwise. As for movies, I obviously live on RottenTomatoes.com. It has such an easy, well designed interface. I look at Variety, the Hollywood Reporter--it depends on who's writing. DCmoviegirl and ReelFanatic are good movie blogs that are small in scope, and Dana Stevens at Slate is absolutely fabulous.
But Roger Ebert, of course, is the king of all movie critics. I love to see what he has to say. One thing that Ebert did that I loved is that he trolled the world looking for blogs in English by amateur film critics. He found about nine that he thought were great and invited them all to start writing on his blog! He calls them his far-flung critics.
I have two Twitter accounts, nminow and moviemom. The best thing about Twitter, unquestionably, is using it to take the pulse of the world. I don't care about it as much in terms of following individuals. But it's the best for if you're watching the Tony Awards and want to have the benefit of the sharpest, snarkiest commentary in real time, or if you're following a breaking news story.
I'm also a complete magazine nut. I should be in a 12-step program. The fatal combination for me is the day when I don't get a magazine in the mail but I do get a subscription form for one I don't already subscribe to. There's no resistance.
We subscribe to Time, Newsweek, Entertainment Weekly, The Atlantic, People, Harper's, Fortune, O, Esquire, The Believer, the Utne Reader, Rolling Stone, Tikkun, Good, the Washington Monthly, New York Magazine, the New Yorker, Wired, Vanity Fair, and the Washingtonian. I take a very Darwinian approach to them which is that I'm not going to hurt their feelings if I don't read everything and it's up to them to interest me. If New York Magazine or Vanity Fair has another article about a rich person who murdered someone, I don't feel like a moral failure if I don't read it.
My final real source of news is a quite serious thing despite not sounding that way. My parents have three envelopes open at all times that they stuff with clippings for their three daughters. Two or three times a week I get a priority mail envelope stuffed to the brim with thousands of things my parents have read. They clip from newsletters, odd publications as well as the main ones--they're always finding stuff I don't otherwise see. They'll send me anything about Washington, because I live there, any school I ever attended, anything about children, because I have some, anything about movies, because I blog about them, or business, because I write about it. It's like opening up a Christmas stocking, a fabulous cornucopia of often very interesting things.
Right now I'm coauthoring a textbook about corporate governance that will be used in business schools. I've been reading stuff about the financial meltdown for that: I just read Michael Lewis's new book, The Big Short, as well as Simon Johnson and James Kwak's 13 Bankers, Daniel Gross's Dumb Money, and Andrew Ross Sorkin's Too Big to Fail
I still prefer to read books in book forms rather than on a Kindle. But I do keep Jane Austen novels on my iPhone, since I'm always rotating through them, along with Dickens and Shakespeare. iPhone books are good for emergencies, if you're stuck in traffic or your plane's delayed.
I also listen to audiobooks on my iPhone. And podcasts! I love podcasts. That's what I do in transit, in the car. Podcasts have been a life transforming experience for me. I get to listen to Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me and This American Life and Slate's Culture Gabfest and NPR's Culturetopia. I also love Dana Steven's Spoiler Special for Slate, and the DoubleX podcast.