One of my long-time favorite features on The Atlantic website is the Media Diet. The premise is simple – prominent people in a wide variety of fields are asked what they read on a daily basis to get a handle on what’s happening not just in their field, but in the world. Some of my recent favorites include HBO’s John Oliver, who likens researching his show, “Last Week Tonight,” to “the process of imbibing as wide a variety of poisons as possible,” and Rusty Foster, author of “Today in Tabs,” who advises, “I think more people could do well to remove sources of media from their lives and figure out what they really can’t do without.”
Reading these posts got me thinking about my own media diet.
I start everyday like most people in higher education, reading Inside Higher Ed and The Chronicle of Higher Education’s morning news digests (in my case, before I do anything else, including getting out of bed), along with whatever Google alerts have come in overnight. If it’s Tuesday or Thursday, I’ll also read the American Council on Education’s Higher Education & National Affairs to catch up on policy developments and headlines I might have missed.
After my grueling commute of approximately 35 seconds from bedroom to living room, I put on the first two hours of The Today Show (morning shows are a great barometer of what’s a kitchen table issue this week) and turn to Twitter. Most of the news I read I come to via links from Twitter. I try to be thoughtful and follow a wide range of accounts – journalists at national publications as well as local ones across the country; presidents and communicators and faculty members at all types of institutions; and people and publications that have nothing to do with higher education. And from time to time, I spend some time browsing the people you all follow, to see what I’m missing.
Later in the morning, I read two POLITICO newsletters – Mike Allen’s Playbook and Morning Education. In addition to feeding my need for Washington scoop, both also highlight interesting trends, good journalism on a wide range of topics, and smart perspectives on things happening outside the Beltway bubble.
I read a lot of non-higher education publications as well – both online and in print – and I frequently find pieces that offer interesting parallels to higher ed issues or shed light on challenges we face as communicators, no matter our industry. Among the magazines that arrive in my mailbox are Fast Company, The New Yorker, New Republic, and The Atlantic. Outlets bookmarked in my browser include BBC, NPR Ed, Vox, Grantland (beyond sports, it offers great cultural commentary), Businessweek (a Teresa Valerio Parrot favorite), and a number of major daily news papers (The New York Times, which I read in hard copy on Sundays, as well as The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, LA Times, Chicago Tribune, etc.).
Two last categories that are commanding more of my attention lately: podcasts and email digests. I use Downcast to stream podcasts like On the Media, Fresh Air, Pop Culture Happy Hour, Slate’s Political Gabfest, and This American Life. And I’ve recently subscribed to a bunch of email digests, including Jason Hirschhorn’s MediaREDEF, The Ann Friedman Weekly, and Catilin Dewey’s Links I Would Gchat You if We Were Friends (hat tip to Brian Wachur).
So there it is – my media diet. It seems pretty overwhelming when I lay it out like that, but writing it out helps me notice some patterns. A lot of my news comes from email newsletters, either those that come direct from publications or those that curate good online content. Broadcast news factors very little into my day though I do watch its stories, surprisingly enough, via Twitter. And while print is still important to me, it makes up a pretty small percentage of what I’m reading on a daily basis.
I’d love to find new sources to add to my diet, so I’m planning to follow The Atlantic’s lead and reach out to some higher education colleagues and ask them to share their diets. I can imagine where the similarities might be, but I’m really interested to see where our paths diverge.
Please use the comment section below to both share the most valuable parts of your media diet and to let me know whose media diet you’re most interested in discovering.