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Their media consumption

Published January 19, 2006

  Mixing our media
Television, newspapers, Internet, video games. Is there a perfect formula for blending the spectrum of information and entertainment sources? And how much is too much?

Their media consumption
We wondered what a few folks would say if we asked what their media diet was like, so we sent an e-mail questionnaire to a few interesting subjects.

The media pantry
With the current deluge of media available to most consumers, designing your media diet can feel a little like picking dinner from a 500-item menu.

We wondered what a few folks would say if we asked what their media diet was like, so we sent an e-mail questionnaire to a few interesting subjects.

Admittedly, this grouping is a bit unscientific and random, but hints at some important recent media trends - including the growing use of newspaper Web sites, the impact of National Public Radio and the entertainment value of cable news coverage.


Florida Governor

DIET: In the morning, scans St. Petersburg Times, Miami Herald and Orlando Sentinel newspapers online; if he's up early enough, he may also read other newspapers. He also checks the Sayfie Review political Web log, while watching Fox News Channel's Fox and Friends in the morning.

While traveling to and from work, Bush listens to National Public Radio. During the day he reads the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and sports section of USA Today. At home, he watches Fox News Channel's 6 p.m. newscast anchored by Brit Hume, scanning news clips (mostly education stories); he also watches MSNBC occasionally. Movies and sports may come after that.

WHY: "I don't view any media outlets as unhealthy," Bush said in an email to the St. Petersburg Times. "Sometimes I think their approach is wrong but I think knowing different points of view is important. In my job, it is important to know how reporters are covering stories and how editorial writers are thinking. I enjoy human interest stories as well. I get a ton of news from e-mailers who send me articles with their comments asking for my opinion."


Executive director, St. Petersburg Free Clinic.

DIET: In the morning, Egbert reads the St. Petersburg Times and listens to NPR. During the day, she balances sneak peeks at Yahoo News online with snatches of NPR or Tampa community-supported radio station WMNF-FM 88.5 if driving. Evening brings a look at the Public Broadcasting System's NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. Egbert avoids local TV news programs.

WHY: "Humor is good early in the morning and positive interest stories on subjects I might never hear about are interesting," said Egbert in a return e-mail. "It doesn't hurt to have the hard news for a reality check early in the morning. The shows that I will quickly turn off are those that are shouting, claiming absolutes, and look or sound as if they want ratings from inciting the news rather than reporting it in context. The healthier sources use original sources and promote understanding of an issue. The unhealthiest sources are those that repeat (noise or visual) headlines without providing information and capitalize on news that promotes fear and distrust."


TV writer/producer (Kingpin, ER, NYPD Blue).

DIET: First, Mills consults five Web sites: the Drudge Report (political and journalism gossip), Jim Romenesko's Media News, (roundup of TV critic stories), Huffington Post (collection of political Web logs) and American Renaissance (white supremacist site). In his car, Mills listens to Los Angeles' all-news station KNX-AM 1070 with once-weekly peeks at a print outlet such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times or Daily Variety trade newspaper. And during the evening, Mills passes up entertainment fare to surf through the cable news channels, including CNN, Fox News, CNBC, MSNBC and more.

WHY: "I'm not exactly proud of my media diet," wrote Mills, a former reporter for the Washington Post who turned to TV writing in the early '90s, in a return e-mail. "My healthiest habit has to be all-news radio. It's the unsung hero of the U.S. news media. A good news radio station can really keep you up to date on the basic news of the day. . . . Worst habit? The prime time cable news merry-go-round. Not that I get caught up in the manufactured drama of the missing-white-chick-of-the-week. It's just that I watch all these talking heads as a form of entertainment, not for the depth and breadth of knowledge they provide on the news. The cable news nets have pretty much entirely taken me away from prime time entertainment programming."

And why would a black writer regularly read a white supremacist Web site? "As with American Renaissance, I even seek out some information (or spin) that is arguably pernicious," said Mills, who won an Emmy in 2000 as co-writer on HBO's black-centered miniseries, The Corner. "Weighing the biases and taking everything with a grain of salt (again, while minding my blood pressure) is the way I consume media."

[Last modified January 18, 2006, 11:22:07]

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