What I read


In my recent interview with the fellas at Journalism Lives, one of the questions I had the most fun answering was the one that asked what my media diet is like.

The answer to what one reads, as this Atlantic Wire series can show you, can be quite interesting.

Since my response to that particular question had to be scrubbed to keep the interview at a manageable length and since people do sometimes ask me what I read daily, I figured I’d post my response here.

This is what I told the Journalism Lives guys, verbatim, when they asked me what I read and if it has changed any in recent months/years:

There’s been a tremendous change over the years I think. To put it in context, I’ll be 30 at the end of this month and I think I’ve just now, in the last year or two, gotten into a comfortable media consumption groove. Basically, I use Twitter for almost everything. Before your jaw drops, allow me to explain :) I actually have a lot in common with Jay Rosen. He talked about his habits here. Notice how he says he doesn’t use RSS/Google Reader. Neither do I. He doesn’t watch much TV news. Neither do I. In fact, where I used to enjoy cable “news,” I simply can’t stand it anymore. I find that online I’m kept informed about everything that’s said on both the left and right of the political spectrum and I don’t have to see/hear it. Jay also puts a lot of stock into his trusted sources: people he follows on Twitter, blogs he reads regularly, etc. So do I. I do it a bit differently in that I have quite a good number of people/accounts on mobile alert so that cuts through the noise of following 3k+ accounts (btw, I’m constantly working to cut that number down; I’d love it to be under 2k at least). Even with the mobile alert list, I put people on and take them off as time goes on. Some feeds always stay on of course. These are people who are important to me personally, professionally, or people who are really great at finding unique content online in my interest areas. I also use Twitter Times semi-daily. This allows me to make sure I’m not missing anything important that a lot of people are talking about. Same thing with Cadmus. I could do an entire dissertation on Twitter honestly, but suffice it to say that I carefully follow people in 3 main groups: journalists/media people including critics, politicians and political bloggers and people in and around Chicago, especially if they blog. By choosing carefully, I’ve been able to construct a feed where almost everything and everyone I see in it at a given moment is interesting to me.

For local news I spend a lot of time every day on Windy Citizen. These stories have been hand-picked by a community I trust deeply so I’m kept in the loop on Chicagoland news without ever having to visit the homepage of any major newspaper or media org in town. So I check in there 3-5 times every day and post things, comment, go read the linked stories, etc. Some of the Twitter feeds I have on mobile alert are also local. The only site which I visit regularly without being reminded (other than Windy Citizen) is Beachwood Reporter. You can judge for yourself why, but I’ll also tell you :) It’s great media criticism and political analysis, two of my favorite topical areas.

I get e-mails from Daily Beast, Mediaite, Foreign Policy and other sites. I don’t always open them and read them and some I read more often than others, but these are also helpful in focusing my attention and they’re a good reminder to visit the site where they come from. I tried getting the Chicago Tribune in print for a while, but found that we had no use for it. My husband read it during his commute, but he could have just as easily read it on his iPhone. I didn’t read it at all save for a few rare exceptions. I’ve recently subscribed to The Atlantic in print and am awaiting my first issue. The price was quite low and I consider their content to be worth having in a paper bundle. Once upon a time, I subscribed to Newsweek for a similar reason. Needless to say, I don’t feel that way about their content anymore. I also get the SPJ publication, Quills and the Columbia Journalism Review.

I occasionally listen to the radio, but only while driving somewhere and even then not very often. I prefer music. This doesn’t mean that I don’t occasionally consume radio content; I just do it online :)

At the end of the day, I know this is all working because I find myself to be well informed about major worldwide, national and local issues (or at least as well-informed as I want to be). I also usually see things before others. It’s very often that someone will send me something or tweet me and ask me if I saw this or that and I’ve already seen it. By going about things this way, I also find that I’m exposed to so many sources of information that even if I’m not interested in something now, I would know exactly where to go if I were to suddenly become interested in it.

If books count as media, I read them as well though not as many as I’d like. I read almost exclusively non-fiction because there’s so much to learn and so many subjects which are interesting to delve deeply into.

NOTE: Since I wrote this, I turned 30 and received my first issue of The Atlantic. I cannot say that both were received with an equal measure of excitement.



  1. David Kennedy September 10, 2010

    We included that question in the full interview, available on my Scribd account. You can see it here:

    I’m glad to see you posted it, Anna. I did a similar post on my personal blog, and it was one of the neatest experiences. It’s one of the reasons I asked the question for the interview.

    I don’t think we think about all the media we consume until we REALLY do think about it.

  2. Anna Tarkov September 10, 2010

    Yup, I know it’s on your Scribd :) Just wanted it somewhere more accessible and easier for me to keep track of. It’ll be fun to revisit it in, say, 10 years (or even 5!) and see if things have changed.

  3. David Kennedy September 10, 2010

    Absolutely! :)

    I bet it changes some in as little as a month.

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