For me, the Internet is not a habit; it is a habitat, thanks to the nature of my work and natural inclination. Working for an online news portal entails being “always on”—I tend to log in early morning, break for shower and commute to work, log in when I get to office, and stay logged in till the end of the day (whenever that is). This means I am online for almost 10 hours on an average every day.
Always on: The Net isn’t a habit, it’s a habitat.
• My mail, for obvious reasons, and my Google Reader. When I stumble on an interesting site, I plug its RSS feed into my Reader. It works as my go-to resource. Between my email account and the contents on the Reader (and Netvibes.com, which I use to collect daily reads and organize them in categories), I pretty much have everything covered.
• I try to visit as many Indian news sites as possible, and even a few dozen global links such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Independent, London Times, Spiegel Online... It is an exhaustive list, since I belong to a profession where reading widely is pretty much mandatory.
• I don’t know if you can call it a “useful tool”, but I do visit www.gapminder.com very often. I rate it as one of the most outstanding sites because of the presentation and interpretation statistics it offers.
• For the many wonderful presentations and speeches, etc., it offers, www.ted.com is a must-visit site for me.
• For me, www.nytimes.com/timesskimmer/ is easily the best online presentation of a print publication.
• The Daily Beast (www.thedailybeast.com): I like The Beast not merely for its uniformly high standard of writing, but also for how it offers an alternative to the otherwise staid, routine presentation of news.
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I use Firefox on my Windows laptop and Safari on my Mac. Both because they are very quick and well organized. I do have Chrome, Safari and Flock installed on my laptop, but rarely use them. I am not a fan of Explorer.
For keeping in touch with old friends and finding some new ones along the way, www.facebook.com is the best. I use it almost exclusively as a means of making contact; I don’t post “status updates” or go around poking people or biting them in the neck or whatever.
LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) is a kind of online brains trust to tap into when needed. I use LinkedIn to keep in touch with professionals in various fields.
I use Twitter to share what I am reading/thinking. I also use it to access interesting stuff others are reading/doing.
I use TweetGenius for Twitter and GTalk’s mobile version, both downloaded from the respective sites. Other than these, I mostly use the phone only to talk, listen or sending SMSs.
Journalists tend to think in terms of “stories” and, moreover, their thinking tends to be shaped by the box they are in: the paper/site they work for, the “beat” they cover, the stories they get to write. The fact, though, is, there is much more in the world than what your professional life encompasses. Blogging gives me an opportunity to explore my interests in those other things; to find a voice that is exclusively defined by what I want to say and not by which organization I happen to be working for. Also, unlike traditional journalism, a blog is a good way of testing your opinions against the comments of your readers, and in the process you tend to learn a lot. I’ve also made a lot of wonderful friends through blogging and reading others’ blogs.
Sports journalism at its best needs to incorporate two things: brilliant visuals and high-quality writing that puts you in the middle of the action and allows you to get inside the head, heart and mind of the athlete.
Sports Illustrated (www.sportsillustrated.cnn.com) does both very well. Its features, in particular, are invariably outstanding. I usually receive RSS feeds of sports I am interested in, culled from newspapers and magazines around the world. I also log on to Cricinfo.com, Rediff’s cricket site.
Prem S. Panicker is a cricket journalist and was part of the Rediff.com start-up team. He is currently editorial director of India Abroad and is based in Mumbai.
As told to Varuni Khosla.