Thursday, February 22, 2007

Where do you get your information??

In the rapidly changing media landscape, there will be winners and losers -- most traditional newspapers are hemhorraging readers, losing readers faster than Hillary is losing supporters to Barak Obama. I know I've become the worst nightmare for network TV -- I'm the guy who in the 1980's used to know the primetime lineup for all the major networks for every night of the week -- now, I don't have cable, and I almost never watch primetime TV. I just let my subscription to Time Magazine lapse because it's just plain irrelevant to me. So the question is -- where do I get most of my information? I pull from all over -- here are my best resources, and I'd be very interested in hearing about yours -- use the combox liberally....

  • Word of Mouth -- by far, the best resource I have is word of mouth (or via personal contact or through weblogs) of friends. The aggregate impact of this kind of person to person information sharing is huge. Long before everyone was talking about the DaVinci code, I had 2 or 3 people ask me about it -- word of mouth. Most of the films I watch are recommendations of friends. I've bought books on the recommendation of friends. This word of mouth resource of information is by far the most potent tool we all have, especially in this uber-networked era.
  • World Magazine -- News from an unabashedly traditional Christian viewpoint. World has been at the news game for a couple of decades now -- they cover stories that the traditional news media just plain avoid. This week's issue, for instance, is a comprehensive look at the contemporary slave trade in the world. They've spent a lot of ink on human trafficking and justice issues. They cover political candidates that the other news outlets ignore -- while NPR, Time, and CNN talk about Clinton and Obama and Romney and McCain, World has the chutzpah to give profiles on Sam Brownback, Mike Huckabee and Duncan Hunter. Top that off with some of the freshest cultural commentary out there, and you've got a pretty potent mag.
  • Fast Company -- Covering business, technology, new media, and luxury lifestyle from a "socially conscious" stance, this magazine has been for 10 years one of the leaders in the digital economy. This is a great resource for those who want to be on the leading edge of actual business entrepreneurs, rather than in the never never land of the "bleeding edge" of digimaniacs. Invariably, my Fast Company issues are marked up, dogeared and I've got a dozen little notes of ideas to follow up on.
  • The Utne Reader -- A quarterly mag that I think of as the best of the left. Rather than a news mag, Utne is something of a lifestyle piece, collecting stories and think pieces from self styled progressive periodicals. There's an awful lot that I disagree with in this publication, but there's also a lot of careful, thoughtful, and in-depth writing that rattles around in my ears.
  • NPR -- I spend a lot of time in my car, and most of the news/talk shows on NPR are still quite thoughtful. Everything from the business oriented Marketplace (actually produced by rival network American Public Media, but distributed on NPR affiliate stations) to the freewheeling Talk of the Nation -- it can be by turns maddening or enlightening, but it's a far improvement over the tedium of CNN.
  • Presbyweb -- Hans and the Presbyweb team have done a consistently good job of filtering through the mass of news stories and presenting news that is of interest to presbyterians only. However, don't think that it's only for presbyterians -- a good 2/3 of each day's digest is news of interest to Christians in general: everything from reports from the worldwide church to cultural analysis, to religion in the news. The very nice thing about presbyweb is their "pay us what it's worth to you" policy -- it's a kind of barter system. I suggest a hearty payment, for their work is worth it.

There are a lot of other sources that I use, but this summarizes my best "go to list" --

For a flipside, however, here are the sources that I've used...and dropped:

  • BoingBoing -- this multi-author weblog bills itself as "a directory of wonderful things" and I was an enthusiastic reader for about a year. I picked up on one or two stories that were of interest. However I began to notice a certain redundancy among the contributers. It kept coming back to digital rights, disney stuff, weird things people do, science fiction, and sex. Quite honestly, the thing just bores me now. It's supposed to be a collection of the greatest stuff from the cyber-elites -- it is one of the most read weblogs out there. However all it shows is a shallow fascination with "cool" -- I've unsubscribed.
  • Time -- let my subscription lapse on this one. It's not that its a bad magazine -- just that it's not very timely. This year, they chose "You" as the person of the year -- celebrating the advent of consumer created content on the web -- it's just that the story was a year too late. It's old news now. While many of their feature stories are interesting, they are but regurgitations of what I hear on NPR; meanwhile the cultural commentary on books and film is generally uninteresting.
  • Leadership -- I have a new theory that by the time something hits the cover of leadership magazine, it is already irrelevant to me. Leadership seems to be a magazine that is written by large church pastors of the baby boom era for large church pastors of the baby boom era. Somebody at the magazine needs to take a long hard look at Dilbert comic strips and realize that such truths apply to churches as well.

Looking forward to your picks (and pans)