Like many advocates of the new media era, I spend a lot of time consuming blogs (like this one) and other social media. Frequently, I find myself realizing that the only traditional journalism I have read recently is content shared on some social network. That’s unfortunate.
Despite the frequent forecasts of the death of “old media,” excellent traditional journalism continues to live on. Magazines and newspapers still produce excellent reporting and analysis, often beyond what one gets from social media alone. In fact, a significant amount of the facts and other substance found in social media can be traced back to old school journalism originally done elsewhere.
Over the past week or so, though, I have been making a concerted effort to peruse traditional journalism without waiting for links to cue my attention. It’s more like the way that I used to consume information 5 or 10 years ago.
Here’s how I have been starting my day. I begin the same way that I have since the mid-1990s: I check out the Drudge Report. Originally born of my life in politics, it continues to hold my attention throughout the day because it contains a great mix of links to breaking news, politics, and enough pop culture to make sure I don’t miss the really big stories.
Next, I fire up my iPad to use the apps of the major newspapers I most enjoy: the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, and Boston Globe. I find that I can get through all of these in about 30-40 minutes. In addition to finding more in-depth reads about various topics, this reading also helps me to better inform myself of international news that tends to be lacking in my social feeds.
Perhaps most important, this daily newspaper reading introduces serendipity into my information consumption. Seeing (and reading) content that I might not otherwise seek out or that might not make the rounds of my social media inner circle can provide ideas and insight that are useful to me both professionally and personally.
Of course, there’s great content beyond newspapers. Magazines continue to produce excellent long-form content, so I use the iPad Newsstand and apps like Zinio, NextIssue and Kindle to read magazines. I am now trying to set aside more time with this content so that I no longer look into these apps at a pile of issues I haven’t tapped into yet.
Finally, there’s the matter of books. Some good journalism makes its way into book form. Currently, I’m reading Flash Boys by Michael Lewis. There’s a ton of interesting content in there even though I’m not a Wall Street guy.
None of this is to say that we can’t get great content in social media. To the contrary, some bloggers are putting out excellent material on a regular basis. Christopher S. Penn and Gini Dietrich, for example, frequently find their content linked to on my own social networking accounts. But in a world where so much of the new media content comes in the form of “me too” screeds and “click me” lists, a little more time with traditional media may well be beneficial to you.