A month hiatus from blogging: What I learned

Those of you who follow this blog more regularly may have noticed that I’ve been missing in action for the past month. While I blame this partially on my lack of Internet at my house, the intensity of my job in July and feelings reminiscent of summer vacation, I also wanted to take a break to reevaluate my media habits (Thank you, Jim McPherson).

Here’s what I learned about my media consumption in a month hiatus from blogging:

  • When I get my newspaper in the morning, I glance at the front page and then the cover of the West section because I know those are the two places I’ll find local content. I’ll glance through the rest of the paper, but those are really the only stories I’ll read.
  • I would read most if not all of the weekly newspapers I edit even if I didn’t have to for my job – simply because I can’t find that news anywhere else. It’s all local.
  • Even though I subscribe to probably more than a hundred feeds in Google Reader, the only ones I stay on top of are my regional news and journalism news. National and world get too overwhelming as RSS feeds. I still want a gatekeeper so I don’t have to sort through all of it on my own.
  • This is why I appreciate getting daily e-mails from national/world news sources like the New York Times and Washington Post. I get a little taste of everything and never miss the big news.
  • I appreciate NPR in the morning and evenings on the ways to and from work. It gives me a dose of world and national news at the times when I don’t feel like investing in it and I still learn something. I discovered I miss it when it’s gone, as I was forced to realize for about a week this past month when the local station had technical difficulties. There was nothing worse than hearing that grating noise of nothingness when I tried to switch on NPR in my car in the morning.
  • I use Twitter for two reasons: (1) to keep up with what friends from college are working on and (2) to share and find journalism tidbits and news.
  • I prefer trade specific periodicals where I can find detailed information about a niche topic, which in my case is journalism. Even though I’ve gotten the basics of much of the information from, for example, the American Journalism Review before I receive it, I’m more likely to read the articles all the way through rather than skim them if I have the physical copy in front of me.
  • I miss having a better Internet connection for the sole reason of not having a strong enough bandwidth to watch Frontline and other news documentary shows from PBS online.
  • I prefer non-fiction books, but it takes me longer to get through them after a long day at work. I now understand the concept of “trash” fiction a bit more – or at least novels that do not take as much mental or emotional power to read at the end of the day.
  • I rarely go to a newspaper’s Web site unless I have a really, really good reason to go – like a feature package, graphic, multimedia or a link that takes me there. This is especially true if I know I won’t see anything there that I haven’t already gotten from another of my consumption channels.
  • And, most importantly, I miss online journalism. I discovered through this month-long break from blogging and from close attention to industry trends that I miss experimenting, being at the edge of innovation and being up on and discussing the latest trends. I encourage those who are still in college to value those things while you are in an environment that encourages and cultivates them so it will be easier to carry them into places that are maybe a little more skeptical. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day or week-to-week work at a newspaper and lose sight of constantly pressing forward.

I intend to be back to blogging more regularly in the coming weeks.

Here’s my question for you: What can you learn from evaluating your media consumption habits?

3 comments so far

  1. Joy on

    I just found out I get to teach a unit on media literacy, and I CAN’T WAIT to get back into my journalism boots. I will definitley be making them watch frontline and listen to NPR.

  2. Julie on

    While I haven’t taken a hiatus from media consumption, I’ve noticed some changes in my habits over the past few months. Ever since I started working for a daily newspaper, most of my news consumption now occurs while I’m at work. I’ve found that I don’t spend as much of my free time on newspaper Web sites or watching local or international news on TV. As bad as this sounds, by the time I get off work, I usually just want to let my brain recover for a while. After updating the newspaper’s Twitter account during the day, I usually use my personal Twitter account to keep up with news near my hometown and to communicate with friends. My changed media consumption habits have suprised me, but I think that people working in newsrooms sometimes have to make a more concerted effort to live a balanced life since we pretty much live and breathe news every day.
    I agree completely with the last two sentences of your post about innovation and industry trends.

  3. […] the very least, it would be useful if more people would evaluate how they use media more often, as this journalist blogger (and former student) has.  Most of us have long known the value of thinking before speaking. More […]

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