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 people who seem well-informed to describe their media diets. This is from a conversation with Tom McGeveran, editor and co-founder of Capital New York and former editor of The New York Observer. Our discussion has been edited for length and clarity.
Every single weekday, the first thing I do is go to the Newseum website and pull up the front page of the New York Post and the New York Daily News. I look at the covers and compare them in a daily column on the website I co-founded with Josh Benson called Capital New York. I also watch Pat Kiernan's In the Papers segment on New York 1.
But before my morning routine I often wake up in the middle of the night and pull up TweetDeck on my iPhone. Usually my friends, who are writers at different places, have posted their articles at night. Oftentimes I get my news on big stories, like Tahrir Square, or media stuff, which I cover, from my friends on Twitter. People like Joe Pompeo or Peter Kaplan.
On my commute, if I can avoid Angry Birds, I read the New York Times app, checking the local stories, the business and arts section. I read a ridiculous amount on the tiny screen of my iPhone. I probably spend more time reading articles on my iPhone than on my laptop.
When I'm in the office I read a lot of stuff coming in from Politico's Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush, Advertising Age, Paid Content and Romenesko. I check The New York Times homepage a couple times a day and I obsessively refresh The Awl because it's hysterical.
I don't subscribe to magazines anymore beause I'm in the low-cost startup world. When I worked at The New York Observer there was an endless stream of magazines and newspapers, and I was omnivoriously taking in The Atlantic, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair, The New York Times, etc. Now I'm a much more passive reader, taking in what my friends send me. Most of the time it covers me, except if it's foreign policy like Egypt, Libya or Afghanistan.
By the time I get home in the evening, I try to be done with news and then it's all books. I sort of obsessively read mystery novels by authors like P.D. James and Ruth Rendell. It's kind of old lady reading. Mystery novels really make you think about the relationship between the reader and the writer. The writer is constantly informing and keeping things from the reader. It's more self-edited than in other forms of literature. I also read a lot of Anthony Trollope. He's got a way of talking about society in a blunt and perceptive way that always strikes me as brave.
If I'm not reading, I'll watch 30 Rock reruns or Reno 911 or Law and Order: SVU, which is a complete gas. I think it's the funniest show on television. My brother developed a point system everytime a detective goes undercover in a costume or when a prosecutor uses blunt language to describe a sex crime or when there's an ER-style walk and talk. I've mostly gone off DVR and watch shows on Netflix through my Roku Box.
My top three desert island blogs? The Awl for sure. Then Arts & Letters Daily and then The New York Times' City Room. A website that gets under my skin is The Huffington Post. You have the feeling of losing a little bit of your humanity when you go to a website that is frankly so good at figuring out what you want to click.
I think one of the main differences between New York media and the of the rest of the country is the ridiculously deep trade coverage. I spent time in college in a Minnesota town, which is home to a Malt-O-Meal factory and I don't remember nearly as much gossip happening at that Malt-O-Meal factory as, say, Vogue or Newsweek.
What I'm most excited about in media right now is that content is back. Symbolically, that's evident by the purchase of The Huffington Post, which has essentially put $315 million into the New York media market. I think they proved a point with it. You can have an advertising supported content site that is actually a good business and not just something you want to save for sentimental reasons. Also, I love what's happening with Longreads. Just because people are told they don't want to read 8,000-word pieces online doesn't mean they actually don't. I think there's a lot more serious digital native journalism happening right now and it's not slowing down.
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