Terry Gross: What I Read

The NPR host explains her 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 an exchange with Terry Gross, host and executive producer of the nationally distributed radio show Fresh Air

When I'm getting ready to leave in the morning, I put on Morning Edition and continue listening to it when I get in my car. It's a short commute so I get maybe 12 minutes of it. When I'm not listening to Morning Edition I put on satellite radio.  I listen to Willie's Place, which plays '40s, '50s and '60s country and Siriusly Sinatra. I used to listen to some conservative radio in the morning to hear the talking points of the day.

When I arrive at my office I read the New York Times with CNN or MSNBC on in the background. Between noon and 1:00 p.m., I'm hosting the show or doing live introductions. After the show I'm reading materials for my next interview or working on questions.

I subscribe to a lot of magazines: Time, The Atlantic, Newsweek, Harper's, Entertainment Weekly, The New Yorker and The New Republic. I read them all kind of like they were catalogs. I read the table of contents and look for interesting story ideas we might want to pursue.

For TV, I've kept up with a lot of the HBO shows: Big Love, The Wire, Bill Maher. Also Damages, The Office and, when it was on, The Shield on FX. I should mention Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Those shows are just fantastic.

A positive news trend I see is actually in comedy. I think Jon Stewart holds people in power to a higher level of accountability than many political correspondents do. He asks tough questions, and I think his show was the first to juxtapose politicians current statements with archival clips of them saying just the opposite--illustrating their hypocrisy. Now Rachel Maddow is using the same technique to excellent effect. She also does a great job covering stories that are largely being overlooked, like C Street. It's opinion journalism but she does a lot of reporting with it. It's based on fact. There's a form of opinion journalism that's not based on fact and I find that very troublesome. I suppose Glenn Beck and all of that.

On weekends I listen to the public radio programs This American Life and On the Media. I also watch the Sunday morning network news shows. During vacations I try to catch up on novels and or magazines. Two summers ago I read an advance copy of Alice Sebold's The Almost Moon about a woman who snaps,  and smothers her elderly, ill mother.  I loved it, but soon after, when it was published, it received some of the nastiest reviews I've ever read.  Last summer, instead of reading a novel, I downloaded lots of magazines and newspapers on my recently purchased Kindle and that kept me busy during my long plane rides to and from California. One of things I was listening to on my iPod during the trip was the Neil Young Archives box set.

I really don't keep up with bloggers. I suppose I should feel guilty about that but my goal in life is to get away from the computer. Time spent reading blogs takes away from the time I should be spending preparing for guests. It's hard when you're doing a show like Fresh Air and you're talking to musicians, theater people, actors and experts on every subject. You have to make peace with the fact that you can't keep up with everything. It's more information than you can possibly absorb.

I'm not on Facebook and I'm not on Twitter. I feel like I really should be but I don't think I have time for it. Also with Twitter, the way it scrolls and keeps scrolling, it kind of drives me crazy. I feel like I have so many inputs in my brain and my brain is so overloaded with information to see that scrolling by I'm just like "stop."

I keep MSNBC on a lot in the evening while I'm working. I feel like Olbermann and Rachel Maddow keep up on the Web sites. They digest it and talk about them on their show. I also watch some CNN and sometimes Fox News to see what they're up to. If I'm interviewing a movie person, I watch DVDs until I go to sleep or if it's a musician I'm listening to them.

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