John Dickerson: What I Read

The Slate correspondent explains his Media Diet

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How do other people deal with the torrent of information that pours down on us all? Do they have some secret? Perhaps. We are asking various journalists who seem well-informed to describe their media diets. This is from a conversation with John Dickerson, chief political correspondent for Slate.

It's incredibly depressing. The first thing I read is my Blackberry because it's my alarm clock. It goes off, I turn it off, and then I skim through e-mails that come overnight from partisans from both parties. Then I get the Post and the Times from the front lawn. If I don't read the physical newspaper, I feel disconnected from the day. Right now, I've probably read ten stories from the Post today in my browser. But if I don't get it in my hands, I feel like there's something that I missed.

I usually listen to NPR when I'm getting ready but there's been a tragic loss. Our shower radio--even though it was designed to be in the shower--died from too much water contact.

As I drive to the office, I listen to podcasts. On Monday, I listen to the Sunday talk shows or Washington Week. During the week, I listen to News Hour or Speaking of Faith with Krista Tippett from Minnesota Public Radio.

If I work out or go running, I listen to podcasts by Steven Smith and Amy Hungerford. Those are two Yale professors. Smith is political philosophy and Hungerford teaches a class on the novel. I also listen to a show called You Look Nice Today.

When I get to work, I read Mike Allen's Playbook, MSNBC's First Read and ABC's The Note. And that usually leads to a messy and diffuse following of what they're linking to. Sometimes I get knocked off course for the rest of the day because I follow the links and get ideas.

I'm usually checking my Twitter feed: The Wall Street Journal's Gerald Seib and Allan Murray, ABC's Jake Tapper, Politico's Ben Smith and NBC's Chuck Todd. My main column on Tweet Deck is just random people from out in the country who write brilliantly witty stuff.

I spend a lot of time with Google Reader which I break up into folders. In one folder I have Marc Ambinder, Andrew Sullivan, The Fix, Jeffrey Goldberg, Instapundit and The Corner. I look through those very quickly. My last folder "Pleasure Reading" has people like Jason Kottke, Merlin Mann, Boing Boing, McSweeney's and Scott Simpson. People who are talented and very interesting and have nothing to do with politics.

After the digital day is done, it's the magazines: The New Yorker, New York Magazine and The Atlantic. We used to get other magazines but we just don't have the time for it.

Then at night I usually do anywhere from a half hour to an hour of reading in bed. I have 15 books on my bedside. I'm not being pretentious. A lot of them are short stories or essays. A David Foster Wallace collection, Marcus Aurelius's Meditations, Generation Kill, Susan Orlean's The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup and How to Breathe Under Water. I can't do a Kindle--which my wife reads and likes--because I mark up my books quite a lot, and that would kind of mess up the screen.

What blogs would I choose if I was on a desert island? Kottke would be one of them. I don't have to work on the island, right? That cuts out a fair amount of people. I would include Heather Armstrong, Seth Godin who used to write for Fast Company, and McSweeney's, which is really odd and sideways and very funny. If I'm not working this would be very helpful on my desert island to keep me distracted from starvation.

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