Ezra Klein: What I Read
The Washington Post blogger explains his Media Diet
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 friends and colleagues who seem well-informed to describe their media diets. This is from an interview with Ezra Klein, blogger for the Washington Post.
I wake up at 6:00 to do Wonkbook. The first thing I scan are clips that Dylan Matthews sends me--we pay him part-time to help. He’ll send 40-50 articles on what I’m writing about— that is to say, a broad range of economic and domestic policy topics. By 7:30, I have good idea of what’s been reported on that day.
When I go online I open four windows: Gmail, Google Reader, Google Calendar, and Twitter. Like other people I have a large, sprawling, mostly unread Google Reader. I’ve optimized the way I read blogs so that I almost never read a blog on its own site. It's all full-text RSS. Very few other media forms operate that way, so for better or worse I read a lot less of them during the day.
I’ve found in recent years that my blog reading has fractured. I read almost no generalist blogs now. I read more specific policy blogs, particularly economics blogs. Paul Krugman, Capital Gains and Games, and The Monkey Cage are all good examples. I also try to do a fair number of interviews with experts.
Who do I like to read? You always almost want to dodge this question. But I’ve read Matt Yglesias and Kevin Drum for years. I like Marginal Revolution, and I’m a Ta-Nehisi Coates fan. Felix Salmon has been terrific through the financial crisis. When James Fallows writes something, you should read it.
As for magazines, I subscribe to The New Yorker, and I really like New York Magazine. The New York Times Magazine, too. I also read magazines that don't have "New York" in the title. The American Prospect, Business Week, The New Republic, The Washington Monthly, and the New York Review of Books. Oops.
I love long-form magazine articles in general. Matching length to content is really important, I think. There are certain types of commentary that are just better in a blog. Something like Michael Lewis’s The Big Short--that had to be a book. But some books are just padded-out academic articles. The better you are at identifying which-is-which, the less time you'll waste. In general, this has pushed me towards sharply increasing my intake of magazines and research papers. I would love if there were a great daily wrapup of longer-form commentary around the Web. I would also love a really good magazine that’s about food writing, but since the end of Gourmet there’s not much out there.
Throughout the day, I use Twitter for four things. Communicating with people who are interested in my work. Interacting with whatever appears on my feed. Watching the daily mental filterings of my friends. And monitoring Twitter when something big is going on, a hearing or a national event. The ability to engage in those experiences communally is great.
At night--if all this goes perfectly--I want to read print. I want to sit down with a book, and read things on a slower timetable than online commentary reportage. The books aren’t part of the fight I just finished covering, and that’s refreshing. Right now I’m reading This Time It’s Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly, by Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff and Crisis Economics by Nouriel Roubini and Stephen Mihm. I'm not sure either follows my rule of "only read books that have to be books," but so it goes.
For fun I have a monohobby--food--and most of my media consumption comes from that. I like reading big cookbooks. I like reading books about food. I like making food. The TV shows I watch are the NBC Thursday night block, though "The Office" has recently become unwatchable. My favorite thing to watch is back episodes of "No Reservations."