Sunday, February 2, 2014

My Media Diet: Aggregators vs. News orgs

I have catalogued my media diet a handful of times in the past few years (here's the last one from Feb 2013), and I must say it surprises me every time. Tastes change, available sources of news evolve, and I have seen my consumption habits evolve right along with them.
Here is where I get my news, new for 2014.
My primary source of news these days is Twitter. It has always been a big one for me, but the frequency with which I check my Twitter feeds and the frequency with which I click on the links I find there has made it by far my most reliable place for news.
Specifically I find myself drawn to social content shared by the Huffington Post, @AP, occasional Buzzfeed links and Politico.
More generally, I have spent a lot of time curating my Twitter experience, an important step in separating signal from noise on the increasingly noisy social network. I have lists for breaking news, buzzworthy/social news and science news that I keep organized on Tweetdeck and Hootsuite, and find myself checking all of them multiple times a day.
Facebook is another place where I find news - it does a great job of surfacing content that I will like, vetted by the people in my network, and Facebook learns the organizations whose links I click on. But I am simply not on Facebook as much as I am on Twitter, so I rely on it a bit less. For whatever reason Facebook takes me to a lot of Gawker, Daily Mail, Gizmodo and Deadspin articles.
Because social media - Twitter in particular - tends to have a short attention span (with the number of people I follow, my Twitter feeds only show me posts going back 5-10 minutes), I subscribe to a couple of email newsletters to check the top headlines, curated by the organizations sending them.
Every day, I read Mike Allen’s Playbook newsletter, from Politico, and use the New York Times’s daily newsletter as well as The Slatest from Slate to make sure I’ve read any big headlines that interest me. Mediabistro puts out a great daily newsletter about goings on in the media business, which I read every day, and Muckrack’s daily newsletter is a great place to make sure I didn’t miss anything buzzing on social networks the previous 24 hours.
Finally, I rely on mobile apps from trusted sources to check their top stories, several times a day. The New York Times and BBC apps are the ones I check most, but I use Flipboard and the BlinkFeed on my HTC One phone to scan a number of sources aggregated there.
An honorable mention goes to Circa, which I am not yet a power user of, but which I enjoy more and more every time I use it. Circa aggregates bite-size updates about big stories, and allows you to follow any you are specifically interested in, with Circa sending you a notice every time the story gets an update.
Overall, my media diet is pretty straightforward. In terms of platforms, I get 50% of my news on my phone (social media as well as news apps) and 50% on my computer (email newsletters and social media). Another way to break it down is 50% individual Twitter feeds, 25% email newsletters, 15% straight to a news organization’s app or website and 10% other aggregators.
But perhaps the most interesting metric I look at in my media diet is how much news I am getting directly from the organization that produced the content and how much I am getting filtered through my social network or news aggregators.
Because my Twitter feeds center on journalists and aggregators, with only a handful of original sources, the overall breakdown is around half and half. Email newsletters and official social accounts give me half of my news, straight from the organizations, and aggregators and news apps give me half of my news, curated by others.
What’s changed most for me since the last time I evaluated my media diet is my drastically reduced radio and podcast consumption. I used to listen to a lot of NPR and podcasts, and besides the occasional Brian Lehrer show, I now use my car stereo and my headphones to listen to music and audiobooks.
I must mention that, because I work in the news business, professional demands skew the picture if I include them. I watch a lot of CNN and News12 while I am in the office on Long Island, and check the Newsday site and app many times every hour, so at the end of the day those are technically my heaviest news sources.

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