Friday, January 16, 2004

Your media diet: The subject came up on a list-serv of friends and proved provocative. Here were my overly indignant two cents...

My bookmarks are here: There are about 125, but I only read a few leisurely and a only dozen or so for my weblog at

I used to try to dutifully follow "hard news," and I still pick up the New York Times (the tree-icide version) about every other day, but since I've started the weblog my appetite for hard news has waned. For one thing, I'm sick of the implication that Howard Dean and Iraq are the only two things that are important and interesting in this wide world, and I'm tired of the predictable preaching about said subjects on both the left and right (I've ranted here before about the ambiguity deficit of most political writing, so I'll move on). I try to register a broader range of current events, places, and ideas in my blog. Something my journalism professor said in a class at Calvin stuck with me: make an effort to read and write what will still be worth reading two weeks from now. In my opinion, very little in the news media meets this standard. Think of it this way: who among us would benefit from going back and re-reading news coverage leading up to the 2000 election? How much that was said before Election Day and the ensuing mess was all that worthwhile? (And what does this bode for all that we're about to read this year :(

One other note: for opinion writing I recommend loyalty to columnists, not publications. The NYT's David Brooks, for being a conservative willing to criticize Bush, and the New Republic's Peter Beinart, for being a Democrat who is hard on Democrats, have more credibility in my eyes than the usual assemblers of rhetoric. They're good writers and good analysts. I say find a voice or four whom you trust and stick with them.

For my B&C blog, I mostly browse the New Yorker, Atlantic, New Republic, CBS' 60 Minutes site, the Boston Globe's Ideas section, the Washington Post's Outlook section, The Week's Briefing, and lately have dabbled in the Smithsonian and two polar opposites: the Economist and the Chicago Reader. The result may be construed as "non-required reading," but I just don't have the appetite for all-Dean-all-the-time.

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