A Golden Age for (Lazy Consumers of) News

A Golden Age for (Lazy Consumers of) News

I should admit that I am an extraordinarily lazy consumer of news.

I read through the Wall Street Journal every day, but mostly because I can read it on my iPad while pretending to pay attention in class or while stuffing my face during a given meal of the day.

After I wake up, I usually skim through five newsletters that are delivered to my phone’s email inbox: Politico Playbook, WSJ’s CFO Journal, the CFR’s Daily News Brief, Brookings Alert, and the Economist’s Editor’s picks. Don’t be too impressed — I only read these so I can stay in bed for an extra 15 minutes every morning.

My rampant Twitter use is the epitome of my laziness. When I’m procrastinating, at least I can procrastinate somewhat productively as I look through tweets from my favorite feeds — Slate, Business Insider, Quartz, ESPN Stats and Info, among others.

Maybe I’m exaggerating the degree to which my news consumption relies on my laziness. After all, I genuinely enjoy reading and I like to keep up with the goings-on of the world. But I am comfortable saying that I would not be nearly as well-read if news media wasn’t as accessible as it is today.

When I was growing up, my news consumption was generally limited to one newspaper (the Philly Inquirer) and one website (CNN.com). Why? Because it would have taken a lot of effort for teenaged Bobby to acquire additional newspapers or to discover alternative news sites.

These days, the costs (in time and effort — and to a certain degree, in money) of consuming news are significantly lower. I can afford to read through one newspaper cover-to-cover while picking and choosing stories from a diverse selection of news outlets.

I pick up stories based on a news outlet’s specialty. I keep up with the financial world by reading WSJ, Businessweek, and Quartz because their financial reporting is the best of the best. In the same way, I update myself on news from Washington through my favorite sources for policy news: Washington Post’s Wonkblog and publications from think tanks such as CSIS, Brookings, and CFR. For sports, I follow blogs and beat-writers; I can’t stand the rest of the dross churned out by the mainstream sports media.

I can afford to read from so many sources because of the accessibility of news media today — because of Twitter, email newsletters, and mobile apps. It really is a golden age for news, and definitely a golden age for lazy consumers of news.


3 thoughts on “A Golden Age for (Lazy Consumers of) News

  1. Hi Bobby — I’m glad you mentioned email newsletters. I forgot to mention them in my post, and they are a great way to stay informed. Most of the ones I get are journalism- or education-related: from the American Press Institute, PBS Media Shift (two a day), the Chronicle of Higher Education. I also get a couple of emails from Fast Company, a business magazine that has excellent tips on productivity and leadership. I should check out the Economist email … that’s a great news source that I don’t read often enough.

    Can you elaborate a little on the difference between the sports blogs/beat writers you follow and the rest of the mainstream media? Which outlets/writers do you think are doing things well, and why?


  2. I think my jab toward “mainstream media” was a little excessive here, but what I’m talking about are media outlets like ESPN. They do publish some good content, but they also publish a lot of meaningless content as well.

    In general I prefer insiders/sports writers on local beats to their national-level counterparts. For instance, for Penn State sports news, I follow BWI’s Ryan Snyder for breaking news and I would probably read a newspaper like the Patriot News for in-depth coverage. I’ve also gotten away with just reading Onward’s content because our writers have done such a great job with sports coverage.

    I wouldn’t, however, read something like ESPN for updates on Penn State unless they have an exclusive story.

    As for favorite blogs, I’ve always enjoyed WalterFootball.com (NFL, NBA, college football, and college basketball), which incidentally is run by a Penn State alum.

  3. Ha! That’s one of my jobs … making sure people don’t just throw around terms like “mainstream media” reflexively : )

    I appreciate your distinction between local and national outlets. One thing I think national outlets do better, though, is to go big-picture. Local writers are often so busy just churning out updates that there’s less time to put everything in context and give readers perspective.

    I’m gonna check out WalterFootball.com. Somehow, I’d never heard of it.


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