Not surprisingly, considering my age, I find print media essential. It is very difficult for me to read long articles on-line; I can look at headlines, and maybe two or three paragraphs, beyond that, I’d rather have a newspaper or magazine in my hands.
But then there is a question as to whether or not I get enough out of reading the longer articles to justify purchasing print media. That is a question not of comfort, but of utility, and I don’t know the answer. I am not the most careful reader of details (my wife is much better than I in that department), and I often miss more than I absorb.
And finally, there is a question of long term memory and the purpose of it all. By long term memory, I mean: how much do I remember of what I have read by the time I have turned to the next page? Often surprisingly little, I’m afraid, and in fact all I might remember a week later is the headline. Which I could have seen on my computer.
(Obviously, this discussion, if you can call it that, deals with the reader, and not with the journalist and the role of the journalist to provide news to the world; there are, I think, much stronger arguments in favor of long articles and print media from the writer’s point of view.)
So, what do I read?
Every day, I look at The Washington Post and The New York Times. I think these two newspapers are essential, and remain amazed at the right wingers who deride them (most of whom, I am sure, don’t ever look at either).
Occasionally, I look at The Washington Examiner, a free tabloid size daily which could be a lot better than it is, but is becoming much too unthinkably conservative to be a good news source, and occasionally I look at The Washington Times, a conservative paper that in fact is much better than its critics (who also rarely look at it) give it credit to be. My definition of ‘occasionally’ is, perhaps, two or three times a week.
Less often, I look at Politico, another free Washington daily (one of several specialized papers) and, while I can enjoy reading through it over a sandwich or salad at lunch, I don’t think I ever learn anything from it that I haven’t learned from the Post or the Times.
As to weeklies, I look at City Paper, which has seen better days unfortunately, and The Northwest Current, a fine neighborhood paper that keeps me up to date on community matters, and can serve as a reference point for activities throughout the week. I also look at Washington Jewish Week, which provides the same service with regard to the local Jewish community (although not always as well), and The Forward, a weekly Jewish newspaper published in New York, which has interesting articles most weeks, although again I think it was a better paper two or three years ago.
On the magazine side, I read on a regular basis Vanity Fair (my favorite), Smithsonian Magazine, and Biblical Archeology Review. My wife is a religious reader of the New Yorker, but my fear is if I went there, I’d have no time for anything else. That would be even more true if I picked up the New York Review of Books, which if I were really bright and well organized, I would probably do. I now and then will look at The Atlantic or Harper’s, particularly if I am going to take an airplane somewhere, but since my business traveling is not what it used to be, this happens less often. I rarely read the news oriented magazines, unless I am in a doctor’s or dentist’s waiting room.
On line, there are some sites I check quite often, and a few that I have opted to receive by email.
As to my email feeds, I have subscribed to a number of the Wall Street Journal newsletters, and also get a daily feed from the National Law Journal. These are all worthwhile.
During the week, when I am at my computer, I like to see what the Dow is doing, so I usually have either Yahoo Finance or Bloomberg open, since they update on their own, and I check with weather on http://www.wunderground.com. I am still trying to figure out what my best gateway site is for other news sites: I have used Drudge, Arts and Letters Daily, and Refdesk. None is perfect. But I usually from there (or directly) check the Jerusalem Post daily and the Haaretz English site (to keep up with Israeli news), the Hurriyet English site (for Turkey), the Pravda English site (to see the often wacky Russian perspective on the world), and occasionally one or more of the UK sites (I have not found a favorite). I will check the CNN or MSNBC sites, or even CBS or ABC, now and then, but find them rarely to have something I haven’t seen elsewhere. I’ll check the St. Louis Post Dispatch and the St. Louis Jewish Light to keep up on affairs there (often I just run through the obituaries). And when I remember, I will look at the news at http://www.grahamhancock.com, which I wish I remembered to check more often (if you want to know why, you will have to go there yourself). In fact, that is exactly what I think I will do now.