Why Play a Music CD? ‘No Ads, No Privacy Terrors, No Algorithms’

How do New York Times journalists use technology in their jobs and in their personal lives? Ben Sisario, a reporter who covers the music industry, discussed the tech he’s using.

What are your most important tech tools for doing your reporting?

Probably 75 percent of my reporting is done by phone and email, and when I am writing I print out drafts and notes. So that part of it is about as current as 1995. But I also use Signal and ProtonMail for sources who require secure communication.

I constantly scan social media — Twitter, mostly — for news, and in breaking news situations I sometimes find sources to quote there. But I am wary of letting social media itself tell the story.

You need to actually talk to people, check facts, find contrary viewpoints, weed out nonsense.

When it comes to organizing my work, I think cloud computing is the greatest thing since the manila folder. I have 15-plus years of notes instantly searchable through Dropbox and Google Docs. It’s amazing to type in five characters and find that phone number from an obit you wrote a decade ago.

And then there are sites like WhoSampled and Discogs, incredible repositories of information that are deeply addictive for music nerds like me. My time there often starts with legitimate research — say, checking the original writing credit on an old single — but then an hour later I’ve spent $50 on vinyl and reminded myself of the slide whistle sample on “Groove Is in the Heart.”

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