How to Find a Fulfilling Media Relationship in Another Country

What happens to media consumption when you move to the other side of the world? Well, a lot. It is essentially like going on a blind date after being married for half of your life. Everything is new, from the person sitting on the other side of the table to the rules of the game.

I knew my daily media routines had undergone a drastic change since I moved from Finland to Los Angeles. Still, I needed a school assignment to make me stop and evaluate the situation. The assignment was simple: to monitor one’s media consumption for two days.

It came as a bit of a shock how little time I really devote to media on a daily basis. You have to take into consideration that I have always liked to think of myself as a person who keeps herself informed about what is happening in the world. At the moment, my ability to follow my ideal is impaired.

My media consumption is clearly connected to routines. There are certain slots in my schedule, like breakfast or commute, when I usually turn to media. Obviously, I eat breakfast and commute in LA, too. The problem is that I am still trying to figure out which news outlets to fit into these media-friendly time slots. Living in the U.S., it is not reasonable for me to use Finnish media as my main information source anymore, even though I do want to keep up with what is going on back home. I want to be aware of current topics in my vicinity so I need my share of local news based on my current geographical location.

So how much time did I actually spend with media during last weekend? I would say about an hour and a half. That is not much for the newsaholic I used to be.

What’s completely new for me is the fact that my iPhone is my only means of consuming news. This is the first time in ten years that I do not have a print newspaper delivered to my home every day. I have access to a limited number of cable television channels but use it mainly to show cartoons for my children.

I rely on apps. I am currently testing news apps from the Los Angeles Times, AP and CNN to see if they meet my needs. In short, I am hoping that they will keep me up to date on what is happening in LA, the U.S or internationally. That is why I have enabled push notifications, of which I am usually not very fond. On Saturday, I scrolled through their feeds and read the articles that covered the U.S. presidential election. Following the presidential race is a requirement for a class on the rhetoric of the election I am taking. Fortunately, it is also good entertainment.

For news concerning Finland, I rely on Facebook and my Finnish friends. That might be foolish because of Facebook’s algorithms that control what I see on its platform. Since moving to the U.S., my Facebook feed has, of course, changed. I see fewer posts from Finnish media outlets and more from the ones I follow in the U.S.

On Sunday, my Facebook feed was full of links to stories by Aamulehti, the newspaper I work for in Finland. A local amusement park in my hometown decided to get rid of its dolphins because the dolphinarium was not profitable anymore. What made it breaking news on Sunday was the fact that they began to transfer the dolphins in secret to a zoo in Athens. That was obviously a story that many people wanted to share on Facebook and I ended up reading several articles and being engaged in conversations on the topic. It had all the elements of a good story: emotion, drama and cute animals.

Media will find its way back into my life as a prominent companion, of that I am certain. I just have to find out which outlets I want to build a lasting relationship with. I might have to kiss a few frogs to find my princes, but it will be worth it.