Amy Davidson: What I Read

The New Yorker senior editor and Close Read blogger begins her daily media consumption with a crucial question: Sports Center or Morning Joe?


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How do people deal with the torrent of information pouring down on us all? What sources can't they live without? We regularly reach out to prominent figures in media, entertainment, politics, the arts and the literary world, to hear their answers. This is drawn from a conversation with Amy Davidson (@TNYCloseRead), a senior editor at The New Yorker and writer of the magazine's Close Read blog.

When I first wake up, I'll have NPR on and listen to that, and then I'll probably check The New York Times headlines and Twitter, to make sure nothing has blown up while I was asleep. I also get the paper Times delivered, so that’s the paper I take with me to read on the subway.

While we're getting ready in the morning, my son and I often have a struggle between Sports Center and Morning Joe. He's 12. Sometimes I'm on the Sports Center side; often we both have questions that only ESPN can answer. He likes Morning Joe, too. He's kind of fascinated, as I think many grown-ups are, with the dynamic between the hosts.

With the paper on the subway, I'm pretty old fashioned. I generally turn to the news first. I’ll do a scan of it to see what directions to follow. At work, I'm very driven by what's happening in the day. Sometimes the Sports section will be the first I read, depending on what's going on. I mostly follow football and baseball. And for football, I also look online. I read the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for the Steelers coverage. I like the Post-Gazette generally, too.

I have Twitter as kind of a slightly more selective news feed. You want people who know things. For example, there are some hearings going on at Guantanamo and I'm really glad to have Carol Rosenberg who's a Miami Herald reporter in my feed, because she's smart, and she can also mix in funny observations, but really, she gives a picture of what's going on there. She's been following Guantanamo for years and is, I think, the best reporter there, so that's better than having the whole Miami Herald feed. But I also do follow publications' feeds. The Guardian and Foreign Policy are great ones. Jim Roberts [assistant managing editor of The New York Times] is sort of the voice of the Times. I also love the Stars and Stripes feed—I’ve never had a physical copy, but they’re great about what they tweet, and it's a great way to follow stories I'm interested in, and ones that surprise me at times about military life. I also follow General Dempsey, chairman of Joint Chiefs, for similar reasons.

I usually take a couple of things with me home. I read the New York Review of BooksThe Economist, also other Condé Nast magazines. I’ll try to know what's going on in them. I love both GQ and Vogue. I’m not much of a dresser but I always read the Nostalgia column in VogueSports Illustrated as well. New York, Rolling Stone I’m honestly very -- I look around a lot. I also read Spiegel, generally online. It's too expensive here.

I also have the tendency to go down rabbit holes, and follow historical connections and somehow end up on some presidential library page. I often find myself on YouTube looking through videos of Roosevelt speeches and things like that. It's one little connection after the other. There was an actual Roosevelt speech that I posted about a few weeks ago that was because of the Gail Collins dog-on-the-roof thing. I spend a lot of time looking at old political speeches and political material on YouTube. The way that YouTube has those primary sources is kind of amazing to me, or even secondary ones like old news reels. The wonderful thing about the web is that you can just keep on those trails.
I always look at the Washington Post website to see what they have. I once tried to subscribe to the paper and found that they don't actually even deliver to my neighborhood, which is in Manhattan.

Often if I don't have anything to read, I'll grab a late edition of the New York Post and read that, because it is my town. I want to know what's going on here. Sometimes it's also for the sports, but, I do love tabloids. I love the local feel of them. I grew up in New York, and the Post is a very natural paper to me.

I love The Daily Show and Colbert. And I'll listen to the BBC late. And also, it depends on what's going on, but I watch a lot of CNN. I try to watch the Sunday morning shows. But I find that there are a lot of conflicts between those and the Little League baseball schedule. I'm more likely to watch -- on the weekends especially -- I'm more likely to watch CNN International than CNN. It's just a more newsy selection. There's not as much news as one might like on CNN on the weekends.

I live downtown and I also do try to just at least look through the neighborhood papers like the Downtown Express and the Tribeca Trib, partly because they have youth sports results but partly just because I think you should read where you live.

I read books too. I guess I'm not so guilty about my pleasures. I mostly read non-fiction. I read a lot of history, a lot of military history. I just read House of Stone, the Anthony Shadid book, and I loved that.

I don't read as many novels as I would like to. (Oh! I should say, I do read almost everything in The New Yorker, which at this point also means keeping an eye on our Facebook page and Twitter feed.) I would like to read more fiction. I also try to have a basic idea of what my son is reading, which is why I read The Hunger Games books. They were great. I went to the movie the weekend it opened.

There are so many great bloggers and writers out there. A lot of them are at The Atlantic, too. I should read them all. At The Atlantic I like Ta-Nahesi Coates. Andrew Sullivan I always look at. Pro Publica -- they often have really great things there. And they have things that you can spend some time on as well. Also three blogs I look at a lot: SCOTUS Blog and Lawfare and Danger Room. And my college roommate (but not relative) Jenny Davidson, who's a professor at Columbia, has a literature-oriented blog that I love to read, called Light Reading.

And I will say, working with so many great writers that they are the best ones for directing me as well.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.