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 conversation with Details editor in chief Dan Peres, who commutes to work with The New York Times and home with The New York Post, and considers it a luxury that he can benefit from the media consumption of others.
I look at my phone first thing in the morning. It stays in the kitchen, so when I go downstairs to warm baby bottles at 6 a.m., I'm plugging back in and responding to emails that have come in since I last checked, or those I didn’t reply to immediately.
I read The New York Times in print, Monday through Friday. I leave my house before 7 a.m. and it’s there at the bottom of the driveway along with the New York Post, which I chuck up the driveway for my wife to pick up at some point later in the morning (I try to avoid looking at the Post all day because that’s my train ride home). My commute is about 45 minutes, including platform time, and I’m able to cruise through and touch on what I want to touch on in the Times. There was a five-part series recently about this city in Ohio that Donna’s Diner is in; I picked up on that every day. I'll flip around and see what strikes me, but I will always read the obits; I will always scan page one. I have friends and former colleagues who work there—Pete Wells and Jeff Gordinier—I like to see what’s going on with those guys. I flip through most of the A-section and most of the B-section, business, science, I'll definitely flip through home, style. I find it so strange when people read the the entire Times, though! When I arrive in Manhattan I recycle it in this gigantic bin on wheels on the platform. People will put their paper on the lip and leave it for others, but I would not want somebody’s already-read newspaper. Why would you do that?
Once I get into the office and turn on my computer, I actually go to Twitter first thing. I'm not terribly prolific, but I like to see what’s trending. If you go to CNN.com, or any news outlet, they’re controlling what you’re seeing. On Twitter, it’s a worldwide list of what’s trending, and that’s interesting. I hunt and peck by subject—I don’t follow that many people—you can do it sort of mindlessly. If I see a name or subject, I'm curious as to why it's trending, and it’s a guessing game I play with myself before I click through to see what it is. It represents the ultimate water cooler: anything from a sports figure to a political figure to a celebrity to a cause to "I’m a Belieber," whatever it is. That's my first conversation of the day, eavesdropping on this great global discussion.
Then I check out CNN.com quickly to see what’s going on. I'll go to the AP and quickly look at the top stories. Both of those are scans. And I dig into my day, looking through copy or layouts. I’m generally in the office before anyone else in the a.m., and when my assistant gets in around 8:30, she prints out Women's Wear Daily. I'll try to get to that within a half hour or 45 minutes. I flip through the whole paper, and then the media consumption tapers off until lunch, because I have meetings or am reading copy or working on layouts with art directors.
My lunch every day is usually in my office with the door closed, so I can have just a half hour or two to myself. I am a real creature of habit—it's generally a veggie burger of some origin, from the cafe or outside. I will then take a look again at CNN, again at the AP. I'll also scratch a bit of a tabloid itch: TMZ, Gawker, Dlisted, light fare. Later, after I dig back into the business of the magazine, at some point when there's downtime, I'll look at Cool Hunting or other design blogs. I'll check back in with Twitter and maybe take a look at Deadline.com when I have a few minutes between meetings or if I’m on a phone call (I'm an excellent multi-tasker). Staying focused on our own content is obviously a top priority, and there's not a whole lot of time for additional leisure consumption. But if I have a couple minutes to kill, I'll float around on the Internet and see what’s there. If someone leaves me a magazine with a dogeared story, I’ll take a look.
I’m not looking at television at all during the day, but periodically on the CNN homepage they’ll link to a video from the network that I’ll watch. I might take a look at The Daily Show. I'll occasionally watch a movie trailer with our entertainment pitches, or listen to snippets of music with culture pitches. It’s a real luxury and blessing that I’m able to benefit from other people's media consumption. Instead of reading Fast Company myself, people will come to me and say, "Have you seen this great story?" or send me a link to something they’ve just seen. If I’m not able to read it in that moment I’ll generally print it out.
Probably around 6 p.m., I’m heading back on the train. I'll walk down 43rd Street, and there's a guy selling The New York Post rain or shine. With me are print-outs of things I didn’t have time to look at during the day, probably two or three articles at least, and I pick up my copy of the Post, too. I sit down and read through the printed-out material first and then go into the Post. I really love it. It is as much entertainment as it is news. I get a kick out of it; I get enraged sometimes. The Post is the great unwind.
I have three kids, all under 5, so when I’m home the priority is getting the youngest ready for bed and then hanging out with my 4 and a half year old. If SpongeBob SquarePants, or lately it’s been Scooby-Doo, counts as media, make a note of that. I have dinner with my wife, and then I’ll check out CNN on TV and see what’s going on in the world as the day winds down. I’m proud to say that my wife takes the lead in what accumulates in our DVR queue. It is a real mix: Homeland, American Horror Story, Bravo gets a fair amount of love in our house. I’m far too familiar with Andy Cohen's voice than anyone should be. I’m usually hearing it as I drift off to sleep as my wife tunes in to the Housewives of some locale.
I’m unable to read as much as I used to, which was a ton. My book consumption is really when I’m on an airplane now, because by the time I get into bed, I will fall asleep immediately. Weekends are very different than they used to be. I quite honestly haven’t read The Times on Saturday or Sunday in years. I’ll look at the Style section, and I love Vows—there’s something so interesting about those pairings to me. I enjoy reading about such-and-such couple from the Upper East Side; she’s keeping her name, he’s a distant relative of Genghis Khan. I’ll flip through the Magazine, but there's no time, and the same is true of books. I read Telegraph Avenue as a galley, which was great, that’s the most recent book I read. I watched the HBO documentary on Ethel Kennedy—I sat on the edge of my bed to stay awake—and I thought, I really want to get a great biography of Bobby Kennedy.
I'll look at my phone periodically. I don’t really check Twitter on it, but if someone forwards me a story I might read it on the phone. I don't have it with me at all times. I get home at the end of the day, plug it in the charger, and will check it probably twice before I go to bed. We have a couple of iPads—one lives on the kitchen counter, that’s there for conversational fact-checking. It’s great for short-term memory loss, as opposed to going to the computer or the phone.
My wife and I do the crossword puzzle in New York magazine every week, usually at dinnertime or when the kids are in bed and we're puttering around in the kitchen for the night. She takes the lead, and I help fill in the blanks when she’s stumped. It’s a sort of great form of couples therapy.
On the weekend I'm reading to my kids: Dr. Seuss, cool little Star Wars books. I watch the Today show on the weekends if it’s on in the background when I'm playing with my 18-month-old twins; they’re up early and I want to get them downstairs to let my older son and my wife sleep in. I'll go down and play with my little guys and see what Lester Holt has to offer. I’m not the kind of guy who’s going to be in the study; I want to be with my kids.