Getting the News — Robin Sloan

Welcome to’s ongoing series, "Getting the News."

In our efforts to understand everything about social news, we’re reaching out to writers and thinkers we like to ask them how they get their daily news. (Read the first post here. See all of the posts here.)

This week, our interviewee is Robin Sloan (@robinsloan), media partnerships manager at Twitter and writer. We met Robin at TEDxPoynter, a conference attempting to answer the question, “What is the future of news?” Robin’s view in his presentation with his colleague Matt Thompson was both creative and optimistic. “The future of journalism is everywhere.” You can see his presentation with Matt, The Storm Collection, here. With that in mind, we thought we’d ask him how he reads the news.

Describe how you get news throughout the day. What’s the first thing you check when you wake up?

The first thing I check is my text messages, because I get calendar alerts and a few select Twitter feeds via SMS. I also tend to have conversations with close friends via SMS, not Twitter DMs or anything like that.

What publications or news sources do you read and trust? How frequently do you visit them throughout the day?

The New York Times is the only news site I visit directly every day. I’ve been typing that URL into browser address bars since college, so I guess it’s a habit. I also end up at The Atlantic and Wired at least once a day — but that’s most often via a tweet from someone I follow. All the rest are stashed in Google Reader, and I tend to plow through them once every couple of days. Foreign PolicyNieman Labio9, Danger Room, Galleycat, Kill Screen,, 50 Watts — I’ll catch up on everything in great huge gulps.

What platforms do you read/get content on? Are you into reading content on your iPhone or tablet, or do you still remember how to unfold a newspaper? Do you ever watch television news programs?

I’m a laptop guy. No paper for me; no TV either. My iPhone and Kindle both get a lot of use, but mostly for Twitter and fiction, respectively. If it’s news, it’s on my laptop screen.

What was the last great article you read? How did you find out about it? Is this your typical pattern?

The last great article I read was Sam Anderson’s Haruki Murakami profile in the New York Times Magazine. I found it via the New York Times Magazine's RSS feed, and it's via RSS that I find most of the #longreads I truly love. The NYT Mag, the New York Review of Books, the Paris Review and more are all basically plugged directly into my brain.

Is anything missing from your news consumption pattern now or in the tools/sites that you use? Anything you wish you had?

Memory. It’s too easy to read something great… and then forget it in a week. So I’d like an easy way to return to articles that I truly loved, maybe six months or a year later—some sort of time-shifting tool that could politely present them to me again.

Introducing “Getting the News”

People have been finding, consuming, and talking about news for centuries — but the in the last 10 years we’ve dramatically changed how we interact with it.

At, we spend a lot of time thinking and talking about how we can improve the way that people find, consume, and talk about news. These brainstorms tend to move our thinking forward, but over the course of the last few months, our most meaningful conversations have happened (as Steve Blank would say) “outside of the building.”

We talk to a lot of brilliant people about the way that they use news, and it occurred to us that others might find these conversations as fascinating as we do. With that in mind, we’re pleased to launch a new series on the Blog: "Getting the News.”

Each week, we’ll share some of the most interesting conversations that we’ve had with industry experts like Robin Sloan and Khoi Vinh. But we’re also casting a wide net. In the weeks ahead we’ll share responses from university presidents, journalists using social media, and our parents (you read that right). The more we know about how people read the news, the better prepared we’ll be to make the best news experience available.

Stay tuned with your tool of choice (RSS, Twitter, Tumblr).