What I Read To Stay Informed, Year End 2016 Edition

Getting the news and staying informed are not necessarily the same. News is the events of the day, what is happening in Syria. Staying informed is learning what is driving the news, the “why” of events made up of many stories.

For broad coverage, I rely on the New York Times and NPR, and, to a lesser extent, The Atlantic. The Economist is the only news magazine I know of that regularly provides both breadth and depth. Its red-edge special sections are worth keeping. Politico sometimes (but just sometimes) has good deep backgrounders.

For business, I read the Wall Street Journal, Fast Company and occasionally Bloomberg News. Fast Company used to be good, a kind of modern Forbes without the conservative bias, but lately it has become too fixated on design. Bloomberg News, the reincarnation of Business Week, seems to be getting better and better.

For technology, I read Technology Review, put out by MIT, and the business pages of the Seattle Times. I live in a tech region, and while much of the local reporting is a “he said, she said” of bland reportage, there is enough detail about why products succeed and fail to provide some understanding of software and biotech, two industries that are a source of growth nationally.

For urban development, I read Planetizen and the various clippings on real estate development that my colleague Greg Tung, an urban designer, sends me. (It may be that having a collection of smart colleagues like him is the only real way to stay informed.) I used to find Planetizen much more interesting, but now I find that it is too much focus on aspirational planning, like the latest plan for Buffalo, and not enough on why specific projects work. I occasionally scan The New Geography, but the libertarian and intensely pro-suburban biases there can be off-putting. My LinkedIn feeds sometimes take me to good articles by the Urban Land Institute. 

We are in an in-between time. The earthquake of 2008 shifted the tectonic plates of business and society, and the plants growing up in the cracks are still so young and small that they have yet to be noticed by most publications. There is no one hiker’s guide yet to the new economy, just a lot of short reports, and from a lot of scattered sources. If you have suggestions of where and what to read, please send them to me.