What I read, use, and follow

Almost every day I open new web sites, test fresh platforms, and try to cruise this constantly growing media world. But on a constant basis, I keep an eye on a few web sources. Some of them are popular and don’t need to be introduced, but some deserve closer attention. As always, here is my list of various pages, projects and web sites dedicated to the media, news, IT, TV, finance and governmental industries.

The Wall Street Journal sends me around 20 emails every working day (on weekends this number drops to 8-10). But this is because I subscribe to all stock news, The 10 Point, European updates, and closing stock reports, not to mention media newsletters. One web site can satisfy one’s needs for any kind of political, financial, or general interest information. Be aware that everything will have a conservative flavor.

We turn now to emails, don’t forget to subscribe to the awesome newsletter from Quartz.com. A startup backed up by Atlantic Media and launched in September 2012, it is a digital-only outlet “designed to serve business professionals who travel around the world, are focused on international markets, and value critical thinking”. In other words, qz.com wants a piece of the WSJ and FT pie. The editorial team (professionals who worked for decades at “The Economist, and "Forbes” among others) distills and gathers the most relevant news and packs it into a beautiful, functional and clear email. No paywalls, no restrictions, a minimum of banners (in their place – advertorials) and a mobile-native platform (the web site looks the same on any screen). The site is growing and has a potential to create a number of B2B projects. But right now it is the most effective and efficient way to get your dose of world news.

Cir.ca also provides a convenient mobile user experience. One can register in a minute and start getting news from a crystal-clear application. It is one of the most convenient applications for consuming information on-the-go. Ironically, this thesis is inserted by the company into its credo. Even the content on the screen is divided into a few parts (text doesn’t take up the whole screen), which makes it easier to read on a treadmill or bike.

The Economist is famous for its mission of finding a proper theme of the week, as well as conveying an immutable hate of Eastern Europe, the Middle East and emerging economies in general. But it still provides an example of quality journalism covering a huge variety of topics and geographies, using probably the best written English publicly available. It is arguably the last magazine in the world that can publish a 3-page article about the history of salt (!) without the author’s name on the byline, while still selling the following two-page spread to Chanel or Rolex. For me, reading the Economist is like going to the opera – you probably don’t want to do it initially, but once you get in, it becomes a real pleasure.

The New Yorker invented a “long read” years before this format appeared for Kindle on Amazon’s web site. Because average New Yorker articles are longer than those in any other magazine (think “Atlantic”), they read more like a case study or an investigative essay full of details and colorful allusions. The New Yorker is one of few periodicals still publishing poetry in every issue, and reading poetry is, as Joseph Brodsky said, “The way to develop good taste in literature.”

Wiki Answers proclaimed the New York Times the most influential newspaper in the world, while its circulation is far from the world’s largest. The reason, probably, is its elitist left-wing position with a strong emphasis on New York events. Its “Arts” section and the Book review on Sundays are concise and intelligent, whereas the editors manage to sustain the balance between the regular news and story-telling content. Having both NYT and WSJ on your table, you might get two polar points of view on a business enterprise or the latest political crisis. You will still need to mix and shake up information in your head, but at least you are likely to get stories of favorable quality. Again, as I said, the NYT’s weekend issues are unparalleled and getting at least a Sunday paper will definitely enrich your weekends.

Dealbook is a stand-alone sprout of the NYT devoted to M&A, IB, PE, VC, and IPO news and rumors. All these subjects are covered with religious scrutiny, while the site’s founder, Andrew Ross Sorkin, is still engaged in its day-to-day operations. The Dealbook’s newsletter is a free and convenient method to keep up with the latest news in the industry, and provides a good starting point for further research.

I have written about NPR.org numerous times, but still am sure that it offers an example of how a radio conglomerate should position itself and function in the 21st century. It actively engages with tech companies (from Ford to Google) in order to deliver its message through the all-pervading Internet of things. The next most logical step to me is to partner with public transportation and mass transit companies to distribute radio shows to commuters for free. In terms of the content, NPR holds a reasoned and well-grounded position.

Quora.com in the last couple of months has completely replaced Wiki, in what I consider to be the ultimate victory of Web 2.0 over Web 1.0. One might argue that Wiki is also from the ‘consumer-creates-content’ era, but that is not a topic of this article. Quora answers majority of my questions, and the quality of its responses is really high – they are detailed and succinct. However, not every industry or field of expertise is covered, the content is media and tech-centered, and this is something the company should work on, if it wants to attract advertisers.

Brain Pickings is run by Maria Popova, a Bulgarian writer and blogger, who created something close to another “New Yorker” in a just couple of years. Literature, poetry, fashion, travel – themes are sporadic, and weekly newsletters might be intermittent, but the web site builds up tolerance, and surfing it, you might lose track of time.

Nieman Journalism Lab is a Harvard institution that should promote journalism but became one of the most prominent resources of knowledge about big data, new media and media trends, newsonomics and mobile applications. As I am extremely passionate about abovementioned fields, for me Nieman lab is the reliable source of opinions and forward looking statements. I don’t read it every day, but follow on the weekly basis.

Mashable has grown up from a blog about social media to the most recognizable portal about mobile, entertainment and gadgets. Currently Mashable is Buzzfeed.com of the tech-oriented Internet. Nowadays, Pete Cashmore’s kid can leverage its influence and obtain insights from companies as big as Twitter and Facebook, and host annual conferences.

These are the web sites worth your attention and time. For years, they proved to be reliable sources of information, no matter how biased it might become months before the new election cycle.


Now read this

The New Republic: blame the youngest

Chris Hughes is blamed (and this is pretty reasonable) for breaking apart “The New Republic”: more than a dozen editors and staff members followed the magazine’s departing editor Franklin Foer and its literary editor Leon Wieseltier in... Continue →