May 22, 2012
★ Long Form Traditional Journalism versus New Media

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Reading by the Candlelight

RSS is so misunderstood. When people say RSS is dead they are talking about the news feed platform or, to put it in easier terms, Google Reader and all similar tools are dead. I can’t say RSS is dead because Twitter is the largest RSS publishing platform in the world. Did you know that every Twitter account has a published ATOM feed? You can subscribe to my tweets in Google Reader if you want. Ever wonder how Weatherbug gets breaking news to millions of devices? RSS within the app. The feed is updated and published and then the apps check it and display to me a thunderstorm is coming. RSS powers the world because it’s just “really simple syndication”. RSS is not dead. Google reader may have become irrelevant but RSS goes way beyond reading news or blogs.

RSS is not dead. </rant>

I’m tired of sensationalist journalism. I’m sick of “click here to see a gallery of craziest celebrity moments” and link-bait headlines and pop-ups and advertisements that force me to scroll before I can even get to the article. I’m also sick of YouTube videos with thumbnails of half-naked women or Gawker articles (all of them). Mashable too. Huffington Post or Business Insider. I’m over it. I’m over the click bait and I want real news. I want to pay for news and see minimal to no advertisements. I want news that was researched, processed, edited and then published in a way that respects the reader. Nothing is free. If you get your news for free, chances are, you’re paying in another way. You aren’t a reader, you are a warm body that only serves the publisher by looking at and clicking ads. The more they can get you look at ads, the more they make off of you. 

I’m through with that model but it’s isolating me from a lot of the things I used to enjoy. I’m so angry at the model that I can’t even go to Facebook anymore because trending stories and things my friend like or read are always about celebrities. My Twitter friends constantly link to Apple rumors and more celebrity news. Have you noticed that I don’t tweet links to news stories any more that I find interesting? I don’t link to anything anymore not because I don’t have the time but because people follow me to see my life. 

My friend Krissy who is awesome and I follow her on Twitter. She’s one of only 42 people I follow. I like her story. She has a great story and is interesting and fun to read about. However, lately the majority of her tweets are about space, NASA and aeronautics. She tweets about them because she finds them interesting. I don’t. I could care less. So, I have this dilemma. Do I follow her and just tune out her space things or do I unfollow and instead drop her an email sometimes to see what’s new?

I’ve had this dilemma a lot lately. I have stopped sharing links on my Twitter account because I radically shift my lifestyle too often. Countless times, I’ve had people message me asking why I don’t talk about ____ anymore. I stop talking about Apple or Cheese or San Francisco and start talking about killing my own food and brewing beer. Next year, it’ll be something else. I’ve talked before about how I live so no need to explain it but I want to save people who follow me from my always changing personality. I’ll tweet what I’m doing and that’s it. If I were to tweet links about brewing beer as much as I did about Apple or social media, I’d lose all of my Apple and Social media followers. In short, to tweet links to content would cause my followers to shift constantly. I’d lose old ones and gain new ones and I don’t think that’s fair to people who followed me for me and not for what I’m reading. Maybe I’m wrong though. Imagine a senator switching to another political party. Would his supporters follow him? Of course not. They have different ideals and thoughts now. This is what I do but I do it on a yearly basis. it upsets people and I lose followers.

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In an effort to separate myself from the “noise” that is New Media, I’ve backtracked completely. I keep Twitter closed on my work computer. I don’t have it open and I only visit Facebook to post a status update and, occasionally debunk mis-quoted celebrities images that my friends re-share. I don’t visit news websites anymore or any social media sites unless I intend to make a post or visit a specific profile. I don’t follow news sites or celebrities or “like” Facebook pages. I’m off Spotify. It’s iTunes for me and, most importantly. I’ve abandoned RSS news consumption and have switched completely to 

  • Audible (instead of Podcasts)
  • NYTimes (Instead of Google Reader)
  • The New Yorker
  • Kindle 

I’m having the greatest time because, when it’s time to consume something, I sit down and open the app and consume. I dedicate time to read an article or story and there are no other distractions. New Media distracted me from work and then, half way through reading a blog post, work would distract me from New Media. The result was that I was never fully present in either medium. I was always half in one. Every notification of a new story or tweet took my attention. It isn’t as bad as I’m making it sound but, to be free of it has been a great feeling. 

This has been a long time coming. I started pulling back from social media a year ago. Most of my updates are on Path because I can restrict it to just 25 people. Most of the sharing I do is on Path or with friends via email. When I consume, I actually sit down and consume content and then go back to work or play. 

Since the news reading cut-off has only been for a month, I’m still not sure how much it will affect me professionally. Sure, my work output is higher but what of my knowledge of technology progress and the things I’m most interested in. Apple Rumors aside, I am interested in technological advances. There are magazines for that but they’re not in-depth. I miss the technology news and, a friend got really offended when I called them up and didn’t know they were just on TechCrunch for getting hired somewhere new. I was supposed to know but I don’t use Facebook to read things or read TechCrunch anymore so how was I supposed to know? Things like that annoy people but I’m happier and have more free time so that is most important. 

It’s almost as if I need a service that filters out all of the noise. I’m not saying filter out things based on type of update but use an algorithm to get rid of everything that doesn’t matter. Facebook has “top news” but it’s bullshit. Photos of celebrities with text quotes drawn on them is not “top news”. my friend changing jobs is.  

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 I’m still tweaking this new method of consumption. We’ll see how it goes. As always, I wanted to encourage readers here to try to adopt some of these on a trial basis. Get a $20 subscription to NY Times for the month and try going there and reading everything that interests you before opening Google Reader or Twitter. Close social media sites when you’re not working. Try to stop liking status updates and then try unliking pages and then maybe try not to post to social media for just one day. Try these things and see how it feels. How do you feel? 
 
Let me know what happens and good luck. Thank you for stopping by.