Welcome to “Read State,” a recurring TM Daily Post feature in which we ask noteworthy Texans—from writers and singers to athletes and politicians—what they’re reading. Today we bring you the reading habits of Evan Smith, CEO and editor-in-chief of the Texas Tribune and former editor of TEXAS MONTHLY.
At SXSW? Evan is hosting a panel with New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson on the future of the Times at 11 a.m. Monday.
The first thing I do in the morning—before running, before waking the kids, before performing any of the usual ablutions—is check Twitter, which, of course, is the AP Wire of the 21st Century. I usually sleep about five hours, and in that time an amazing amount of stuff has invariably happened in politics nerdland. The best way to get caught up is to press my iPhone close to my sleepy eyes and scroll through my carefully curated feed (including @daveweigel, @ryanlizza, @buzzfeedben, @ewerickson, @jmartpolitico, @maggiepolitico, @jdickerson, @joshuagreen, @jstrevino, @jpodhoretz … I could go on). I’m a regular reader of the Politico suite of morning newsletters, so Mike Allen’s Playbook and James Hohmann’s Morning Score are usually next up. Before he had the audacity to have children, Austin American-Statesman reporter Jason Embry’s First Reading was, well, not my first reading but definitely in my top five. The Brief, by David Muto of the Trib, was a worthy complement and is now an ample substitute. I also look at the Quorum Report‘s newsclips to see what I might have missed from, say, the Abilene paper, along with TM Daily Post (gotta carry the flag—old habits die hard).
As you can tell, I’m a citizen of Aggregation Nation. Rarely do I go directly to a newspaper or magazine website anymore; I’d prefer to have someone or something do the heavy lifting for me. But I’m happy to be oriented in the right direction, and at some point I find myself typing in statesman.com, dallasnews.com, and chron.com at a minimum, along with a bunch of the national newspaper sites. My fanboy relationship with Time‘s Mark Halperin goes way back, so I’m always on The Page pretty early in the day. The dog’s breakfast that is the rest of my pre-dawn media diet includes the first thirty minutes of “Morning Joe” through the satellite radio app on my phone, various Huffington Post verticals, Red State, Jim Romenesko‘s new site (I’m loyal enough to the old bean that I refuse to look at Poynter’s replacement), Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire, The Daily Beast, Politico, Real Clear Politics, Talking Points Memo, and The Fix. And Burkablog—the comments section at least, since the smart set knows that’s where the action is.
The rest of the day, I bounce around the Internet from place to place, diluting my steady news intake. I follow lots of celebrities—defensible ones who are good for a laugh—on Twitter as well, including @theharryshearer, @mjmckean, @pattonoswalt, @thatkevinsmith, @stevemartintogo, and @albertbrooks. I can’t help but love Gawker, as messy and uncouth as it can occasionally be. I always look at Slate at least once a day, as much for the cultural coverage and quirky columns as the politics. And I’m addicted to array of music blogs, from Aquarium Drunkard to I Am Fuel, You Are Friends. And speaking of old habits dying hard, although I’m twenty-plus years from living in Manhattan, I’m still a sucker for the Village Voice and the best of the city reads, New York. (But not ever New York the printed magazine. Count me among those who’ve traded the ink-on-paper edition of this and other publications for the tablet replica, usually with the aid of the Longreads app. Unless I’m in wifi-free captivity—on a plane, say—I don’t have the attention span to calmly and leisurely turn pages.)
There is no end to the things I’ll look at over the course of 24 hours. And I do mean all 24 hours. When I was a gentleman magazine editor, the only time frame that concerned me was every thirty days, so I could pause and take a breath, put my feet up, and stop obsessing about what else was going on in the world. No more. Like Indiana Jones outrunning the boulder, being CEO and editor-in-chief of an online news organization means there’s no taking your eye off the ground in front of you—unless you want to get run over.