Alex’s Media Diary

Consciously examining my media consumption over the past week has been a revealing exercise. In addition to looking at the breakdown of what media I consume in a week, I wanted to document what form of media I spend the most time on, how I get to it, and what times of day I spend on different platforms.

The simple answer: Gmail, all day.

report by categories


In the las week I spent more than 9 hours on Gmail and scheduling tasks out of the 39 hours I logged on my computer, documented with RescueTime. A close second was writing (time spent on Microsoft Word), followed by social networking sites and news/opinion.

My week looked like this according to RescueTime (w/ hours logged along the vertical axis, day of the week on the horizontal axis, and a key for activity below):

my week - rescuetime


But in reality, my week looked a lot more like this: my daily schedule with activity color coded on top by four categories (red = email, yellow = entertainment, orange = news, pink = social media):



Combining the data from RescueTime with a notebook log I kept of my media consumption throughout the week, I found that my news consumption tends to happen in the mornings, while I consume more topical/class-related material during the days, and I tend towards entertainment (buzzfeed, netflix) in the evenings.

I had three additional takeaways from this exercise:

1. My media consumption is socially driven

Screen Shot 2014-02-11 at 10.51.41 PM


I found that I spent a lot more time browsing Facebook and Twitter than I expected. I’m starting to realize that the reason is largely because I pick and choose to read things that my friends share on social networks. For instance, this story on NPR (Facebook link pictured above) was done by a friend of mine and shared by a lot of my friends in the Beirut journalism network. Via social media I am steered towards consuming the stories written or shared by my friends, many of whom share an interest in the Middle East. Not only do I click on these links, but, after examining the open tabs on my browser at the end of the day, I found that I am more likely to go back and actually read/listen to/consume stories shared on my social networks over other links. This concerns me that I may be stuck in a news echo chamber of sorts, dictated by my online social networks.

2. I am a more engaged media consumer in the mornings

By the end of the day, my browser looks like this:



I am much more likely to fully consume and repost or share a story if I encounter it in the morning. By the end of the day, I’m usually operating at information capacity and I’m less likely to read an article to the end.

3. I consume a lot of offline media



My coursework at Fletcher keeps me reading hard copies. I spent approximately 8 hours on offline texts (I’m including my Kindle in this, but that might be a stretch). This material is predominately made up of books and journal articles related to my research and coursework at Fletcher. I’m not sure if this offline consumption is driven by the environment of being in graduate school, but it certainly cuts into the news consumption time that I spend online and on current events. It’s interesting that while I do consume offline media, very little of that media is news; rather, it is longer magazine or academic articles or books.

Posted in All