About the time I arrived in Germany in August of last year, The Economist began releasing an audio edition which contains word-for-word recordings of each article from the paper. Since my print edition was still being sent to an address in the US, and one can only read so many articles online before eyeballs protest, I availed myself of the service immediately. At first I mimicked my US reading habit by listening only to articles of interest, but within a few weeks I decided I would make it a goal to read or listen to every article in each week’s paper. Well over a year later my goal has become something of an obsessive compulsion, and I’d estimate I’ve missed less than a few percent of the thousands of articles run since I started.
The means by which I have accomplished this have changed as I moved about Germany and back to the United States. A typical edition of The Economist has 70-80 articles and the audio edition will run somewhere between 7-8 hours. A typical article will run maybe 5 or 6 minutes, and the ironically-named “briefings” will usually last 15-20 minutes. My reading pace is a good deal faster than the newsreaders can talk, however, so I started by saving the longer articles for online reading and listening to the shorter ones while sitting idly on public transportation or walking to class.
After I moved to Schwerin, however, I did not have internet access in my flat and had a very short bike ride to work. Luckily I soon started a jogging habit, which gave me a new way to knock out several articles a day (laugh if you must, but I found listening to the news better than any music). Soon I was reading just 20 percent or so of the articles and listening to the rest.
With my knee out of commission as I returned to America (perhaps now healing–I ran two miles this morning with no pain), I needed to figure out a new way to do things. Listening to the articles on my 25-minute walk/drive to work was a no-brainer, and I also have begun listening while in the shower as my desktop speaker can easily be placed on the bathroom sink. With this setup, I read less than 5 articles per week and let my iPod handle the rest.
Nonetheless, I still get exasperated by the handful of longer articles each week. The longer the article, the more inefficient it is for me to listen to it, but it is arduous trying to avoid having a clump of giant articles to read at the end of the week. My dismay is thus palpable as I start on the Christmas double issue:
The double issue is really just a regular edition with about 15 jumbo-sized articles on various topics. The average length is north of 20 minutes, and one article examining how Darwinism could improve policy is nearly 40 minutes long (!), almost certainly the longest I’ve yet encountered.
To be fair, I have two weeks to tackle this behemoth, but it looks like I may have to pencil in an inordinately long shower to do the job.
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