Serendipity is alive: where I get my news in 2011

Someone with great influence and interest in the future of news and journalism once spoke with great concern of the loss of serendipity.

When someone picks up a newspaper, she shared, that reader is very likely to come across a story he didn’t expect or otherwise know about. In fumbling with pages and jumps, a newspaper reader is exposed to a carefully packaged product meant to inform. Serendipity is a natural, important and wonderful byproduct, she said.

The internet is destroying all of that, she implied. With narrowing audiences and narrowing focuses, we don’t trip over the important news like we did we newspapers, she lamented. What’s the answer to that, she asked.

With all of the respect warranted, I started, I don’t agree with that premise at all.

We are in an age of a quickly expanding collection of tools to disseminate news and information. Rather than being limited to the perspective of newspaper editors, social media are another crew of tools to find new perspectives, news, information and meaningful journalism.

Today, we have the potential to share more widely the most important, insightful or useful content the world knows in a way we have never had before.

Where I primarily get my news to date:

  • Philadelphia Inquirer — I have a Sunday Inquirer print subscription
  • Philadelphia magazine — I have a print regional magazine subscription
  • NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams — A major, network news broadcast hosted by a newsman whom I both respect and don’t hate. When I happen to be by a TV at 6:30 p.m., and it’s not often, I turn to NBC.
  • 60 Minutes — Again, I’m not setting my schedule by it, but there’s not a better TV news show around, and I certainly find and learn about the world’s news by chance: of tuning in and what airs when I do.
  • NPR — A couple times a week, I play the online hourly news summary from NPR.com and, if I’m in a car and have the itch, I tune into the local affiliate if I can find one, most prominently including WHYY in Philadelphia.
  • Google Reader — I follow 100 RSS feeds from mostly blogs and follow closely the items shared by 20 or so friends.
  • Twitter — Hype or not, by following more than 400 Twitter accounts, I regularly come across meaningful content online.
  • Facebook — Less than Twitter, as those I follow are less ‘curated,’ but I, too, stumble upon news and information I wouldn’t have otherwise by signing on.
  • Books — I still read those big, heavy pages and find interesting subjects, lessons and thoughts, including relatively recent news and trends.
  • People — You know what still happens? Friends and strangers still teach.
  • Online research — When in any other way I come across something I want to learn about, the internet is the greatest research tool known to man, and I certainly use it and, though never the final source, Wikipedia is usually a great source.