A Peek Inside Gene Demby's Digital Life

Feb 20, 2013


Credit Jamelle Bouie
This month we spoke with Gene Demby.Demby joined NPR as a blogger for the race, ethnicity and culture team in December. He is the founder of the blog PostBourgie and has spent time at The New York Times and Huffington Post. 

 Three daily must-reads:
MetaFilter, The Atlantic, The New York Times. In the morning, I spend about 30 minutes flipping through Flipboard on my iPhone, catching up on what’s happening in the world and tweeting stuff. Three people you follow regularly: The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates, Feministe’s Jill Filipovic, and — and this is way more than three —  my PostBourgie blogmates, who are writers and journalists doing all kinds of varied and weird and amazing things. Three accounts you'd pay to follow on Twitter: 
Slate’s prolific political reporter Dave Weigel, who is a master of the pithy, topical tweet. Jose Ogando. We used to both post on the Okayplayer message boards a million Internet years ago, but he’s become something of a Web institution. If something interesting/ridiculous happens at a major pop culture/sports event, he will have created a gif of it and tweeted it within five minutes. It seems like he always has several TVs or monitors humming at the same time.  Tracy “Brokey McPoverty” Clayton. She’s completely absurd and has a seemingly bottomless knowledge of black pop cultural effluvia, particularly from the 1990s. Every year, she does Little Known Black History Facts, which are hilarious and the cause of a lot of pearl-clutching among the super-earnest.   Three guilty pleasures online: Slate’s Dear Prudence, the advice column held down by Emily Yoffe. Not long ago, two middle-aged twin brothers who were in a romantic relationship with each other wanted to know whether they should tell their family and friends about their couple-hood. (I KNOW, RIGHT?) What makes Prudie so fun is that she’ll often address situations that are similar over a week or two, but she’ll tease out why one course of action might not work in one scenario might not work in another. She’s not rigid; the details really matter to her. What If?, which is by the guy behind the nerdy webcomic xkcd, and is basically all the ridiculous questions you wanted to ask your physics instructors. Like, what would happen if someone could pitch a baseball so fast that it approached the speed of light? Or what would happen if you swam in the pool of water that cools spent nuclear fuel rods? Jezebel. It used to be incisive and smart, but now it’s just click-bait-y and stunty. (And they are almost uniformly terrible and self-satisfied on anything involving messy subjects like race.)  But I can’t stop reading, because occasionally slivers of the old smart-snark resurfaces. But I always feel bad about reading it. First thing you check in the morning/last thing you check at night: 
Twitter and Facebook.   Google Reader, which is still a useful way to mainline lots of news, even if it’s no longer the amazing, accidental social network it was a few years ago. It’s old setup was a great way to have really involved conversations with people you knew or sorta knew and to learn about blogs or publications you wouldn’t have otherwise known about. It was like Facebook, but if people were only sharing and talking about the things they were kind of obsessed with, and without all your annoying, bigoted people you knew in high school weighing in in all caps. It’s a lonelier place now, but I have about 400 feeds in my Reader, so there’s always got something to read when things calm down. I watch the NBA game highlights on NBA.com highlights every night before I conk out. Life-changing recent realization: if you watch those highlights on your phone, you can skip the infuriating commercials that run before the clips.  On a computer, you’ll sometime be forced to endure a 30-second commercial for Progressive Insurance in order to watch a 15-second clip of a dunk or nifty assist. It’s soul-crushing. Favorite news consumption time saver: The aforementioned Reader. Or Slate’s Slatest, which goes out several times a day and is a good aggregation of all the biggest news of the day, with lots of links for context. Go-to local news source: So I haven’t really found my news bearings in D.C. yet, but I still read DNAInfo,  NY Mag’s Daily Intelligencer and the Fort Greene Local, the NYT’s community blog for my old neighborhood in Brooklyn. Your most used mobile reporting tool or app: Twitter is absolutely indispensible. You can quickly crowd-source anything or have big, raucous conversations that are surprisingly easy to moderate. On the weekends especially, people have time and will talk to you about their experiences and thoughts at surprising length. Words of wisdom for stations as they go forward with their digital efforts: Talk to people! The wackest social media presences are the ones that are only promotional — outlets and reporters that only pop up in your feed to share their content. The people who do it best jump into other conversations, make the occasional joke, and point to related content that may not be theirs. Those accounts feel like they are staffed by actual humans.