Best Defense

My morning information workout, updated: E-mail, Twitter, websites

Best Defense is in summer reruns. Here is an item that originally ran on October 30, 2015.



Best Defense is in summer reruns. Here is an item that originally ran on October 30, 2015.

I wrote about this several years ago, but I’ve had a couple of requests to lay out my morning information routine. In other words, this is how I get up to speed before sending in my daily blog file to the powers at Foreign Policy.

  1. As before, I begin with my e-mail. I use three accounts, and usually overnight about 50 new e-mails have accumulated. This is way down from when I was covering the military for the Washington Post, when I often had 150 to 200 overnight messages. This used to take me an hour or two. Now it takes 15 minutes.
  1. The biggest difference from several years ago is Twitter. I was reluctant to dive into social media, because I dislike the intrusive nature of the corporations that run and profit from it. But once in, I found it kind of addictive, I think because it is a faster way than searching the web for what’s up in the world of things I care about. I get to see what 951 people I’ve selected think I should know. Their retweets of others is especially helpful — it is like getting 951 smart filters on the world, passing on from their own contacts. (I find Facebook far less useful for work, but better for learning about what is happening in the part of Maine I live in. I think Facebook poses a major threat to hyperlocal newspapers.) I probably spend 45 minutes on Twitter every morning.
  1. Finally, I turn to the internet. I still crunch about 30 sites every morning, but do it far faster than I once did, because tweets already have plucked for me much of what I want to read. This once took 90 minutes to two hours or more. Now it takes about one hour. The list changes about once a month or so. Here are the current sites in my morning workout, in the order I read them, with links provided where not obvious:

— Local weather

— Local tides

— Facebook

— Google news, customized to give me news on U.S. military, national security, Iraq, Afghanistan, technology, science, the CIA, George Orwell, Winston Churchill, the Red Sox, Bob Dylan, and Maine

— Washington Post (sadly, not as informative as the NYT these days, but I read first out of former employee loyalty)

— New York Times

— Reuters world news

— AP world news

— Stars & Stripes (but a balky site, at least with Chrome)

— Military Times (confusing site, may drop it)

— Fayetteville Observer

— Killeen Daily Herald

— National Iraqi News Agency (but doesn’t update daily)

— Dawn of Pakistan (on days when I am not sick of Pakistan)

— Lawfare (but site used to be nice and simple, now jumbled)

— Canadian Early Bird

— British Early Bird (but probably will drop, recently revised and much less helpful)

— Drudge Report (covers a whole world for me that I barely know)

— Ta-Nehisi Coates (though less helpful because he doesn’t write every day, and I used to use it as a gateway to everything the Atlantic has — they have dropped that section)

— My two Maine newspaper sites

— Arts & Letters Daily

— Earth’s Wind & Currents (for the big picture)

— North Atlantic weather chart

— World markets

After that, there a bunch of other sites I try to check in with once a week, for example, Peter Bergen’s blog on CNN and DuffelBlog.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at @tomricks1

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