How do people deal with the torrent of information pouring down on us all? What sources can't they live without? We regularly reach out to prominent figures in media, entertainment, politics, the arts, and the literary world to hear their answers. This is drawn from a phone conversation with Ronna Glickman and Beverly Ginsberg, the fiftysomething residents of Marblehead, MA who host their own podcast, Ronna & Beverly, and appear regularly at Los Angeles’s Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. With the kind permission of Jessica Chaffin and Jamie Denbo — who we raved about last year in The Heat — we spoke with Ronna and Beverly about their media intake.
Beverly: First thing in the morning, I go right to my Yahoo News and see which animals are feeding baby animals of another species in which zoo, all over the world. Everyone likes an animal that is tapped in the wild when it’s a baby and you can put in in a t-shirt.
Ronna: Absolutely. I saw a baby ocelot the other day, it was the cutest thing I’d ever seen.
Beverly: You don’t want to run into a grown-up ocelot.
Ronna: Beverly’s favorite is whenever there’s a golden retriever nursing a pair of Siberian tiger cubs at the Berlin zoo.
Beverly: I’m a Yahoo News. What are you, Ronna?
Ronna: Sometimes you link out to CuteOverload.com.
Beverly: It’s still up! It never disappoints! Right there in the name.
Ronna: First of all, every morning, I walk down to the end of my driveway and pick up my New York Times, which I have delivered every day. Every day I get three papers: the New York Times, the Boston Globe, and the Boston Herald. And if you print that I get the Boston Herald, I’ll never own up to it. I’m kidding! I love the Boston Herald, but it’s a complete rag. It’s like the little sister to the New York Post. You need to read it for the gossip because it’s very important. When I go online, I’ll sometimes read the New York Times online. Beverly only reads the New York Times online up to ten articles.
Beverly: But if you quit it and then you google the name of the article you’re looking for, you can get it for free.
Ronna: I’ll tell you what, it’s why nobody reads the Wall Street Journal. They want you to click through immediately to their paywall. You won’t get anything from them but a headline. I have to admit I am a devoted Huffington Post reader. I like the aggregation of all the information. I like a Crimean headline at the top. I like a serial killer in the middle. And I like an ocelot cub on the bottom. And I do enjoy Buzzfeed, but only generally if I click through to them. I don’t go to them to get my information, it’s just if I happen to click through to them.
Beverly: Well, Buzzfeed is for children.
Ronna: It’s so much information. I wouldn’t know what the homepage of Buzzfeed looked like if you came up and hit me on the head.
Beverly: I like Amazon.
Ronna: ... For information?
Beverly: For my local news, I read the Swampscott Reporter, the Jewish Journal, and the Jewish Advocate. And the Marblehead Reporter. And the Lynn Item. And the Salem Evening News. I only read the police logs in any of them. "Someone ran over a squirrel on Nathan Road." "There was a party that went really late over at the yacht club." Things like that. It’s important to stay on top of what’s going on in your community. Oh look at this, on Swampscott.Patch.com: “Big Coyote Reported on Didio Street.”
Ronna: I get the Boston Globe even though it’s gotten a little thin. And I get the Boston Herald. It’s tough because news has become so accessible immediately that you can get all your news in one place, almost. I do go to Boston.com a fair bit. Boston.com is actually a pretty good web site, in terms of a paper having local news stories. When we’re away — which we are a fair amount, we travel quite a bit for our program, we’re in Los Angeles every month — I get an email every day from the Boston Globe giving me the top headlines, so I know who’s up to what. I know which black person they’re fingering for a white person’s crime that day. Or I’m hearing about how the bar in South Boston has decided they won’t carry Sam Adams anymore, because Sam Adams says they should openly allow gay people into the South Boston parade.
Ronna: As far as magazine subscriptions go, I get the New Yorker, I get Vanity Fair, I get Harper’s and Harper’s Bazaar. We both get People magazine. We haven’t given up our People magazine subscriptions, even though the stories are so stale by the time it gets to your doorstep.
Beverly: In Touch, Star, and Life & Style.
Ronna: Let me say something about Vanity Fair. I was a loyal Vanity Fair reader and subscriber for 20 years. And Vanity Fair used to be quite a good investigative magazine. And then they sort had this weird moment in the late '90s/early aughts where they became a kind of celebrity PR machine. And they didn’t have so many of these long-form investigative articles anymore. But that issue of Vanity Fair with the Game of Thrones on the cover, it feels like a bit of a return to form. There were three or four articles that I was very interested in. One about the Nazi art that was found in Munich. The other one about the affair that that Sergey Brin was having with that Amanda Rosenberg at Google Glass. You know, it was all kinds of things you’d be interested in. If they’d have added an Afghan drug-smuggling article, it would’ve been perfect.
Beverly: I get my news from TV. I love to get news from Michael Strahan and Kelly Ripa. He is like a giant teddy bear.
Ronna: We’ve had him for an interview and he’s fabulous. We’ve been in his home!
Beverly: He’s perfect. He’s like her bodyguard but he talks.
Ronna: You’re exactly right, Beverly, he’s like her bodyguard but he talks. You’re exactly right. He’s the least threatening black man in America right now.
Beverly: I don't get my news from Twitter, I'll say that. It’s a place for me to share my opinion, not to read everybody else’s. I follow a couple of people that I find very cute. I follow … who do I follow? Ronna maintains our Twitter feed.
Ronna: Who do we follow? I have to say, I don’t really understand when they talk about on Twitter, when stories explode – like in Syria, or from Cairo or whatever. I don’t really understand how they — and I know you’re going to say “hashtags,” but I don’t really see how they sort through what’s information and what isn’t. I would like it to be a more immediate situation, but the truth is you don’t know who’s a reliable narrator and who isn’t. So you sort of still do need newspapers or journalists or voices of reason to sort that stuff out, I believe. You need that filter.
Beverly: You know who I follow on Twitter who’s hysterical? Some dirty-minded person poses as Helen Keller and retweets the filthiest material you’ve ever seen in your life. It. Is. Hysterical. And my rabbi. I follow my Rabbi Baruch Halevi, and my synagogue does a shul-cast on most Friday nights and Saturday mornings. In case I miss Friday night. I can stay in my bed and eat bacon and be in shul at the same time.
Ronna: I can’t believe I forgot to talk about the Daily Mail! That’s the second place I go in the morning: DailyMail.co.uk. Absolutely the world’s greatest web site. I don’t know who’s the genius behind it, but they’ve managed to have American gossip and English gossip, and anyone who knows me knows I read the Guardian online, I read my BBC.co.uk, and I read the Daily Mail online, because I have to keep up with what’s going on in England.
Ronna: We'll watch the local news of course. WCBV, channel 5. The local news in Boston, it’s too good to miss.
Beverly: You know who I get my news from? My daughter. She texts me a lot during the day, tells me different things that she knows, about what’s going on in her life. That’s news.
Ronna: Is Chronicle Magazine still on?
Ronna: Are you sure? I think it is still on. Chronicle was like a local newsmagazine – first there was PM magazine, which was hosted by Tom Bergeron.
Beverly: It’s on WCVB.
Ronna: Oh and Boston Magazine, we both have subscriptions to Boston Magazine. I have a subscription, and then Beverly just comes over and reads the best stuff at my house. Beverly doesn’t keep any subscriptions herself, she’ll just come over to my house and read mine.
Beverly: It’s called recycling!