I watch news on and off pretty much anytime I'm watching TV, but I thought I'd lay out the highlights of a typical day. I'm not saying I watch all of this, but these are generally the shows I turn to when I want to know what's going on. All times central.
5:00 AM - 8:00 AM - Imus In The Morning (MSNBC)
You don't have to agree with Don Imus to enjoy his show, which is good, because Imus generally chooses to shake things up by being disagreeable. Three things make this show work - Imus' provocativity (this may or may not be a word, but you get the point), great guests, and it's a radio show that happens to be on TV. If you want to see sharp-dressed people all made up for a national TV audience, turn to any one of the major networks. If you want to see somebody who looks more like you do when you roll out of bed, watch Don Imus.
8:00 AM - 4:00 PM - Various MSNBC, CNN, CNBC, and The History Channel
Even with everything going on in the world, if you watch any of the 24-hour news networks for more than a couple of hours you'll soon reach the point of diminishing returns - when you're unlikely to hear anything new and stories and topics just get repeated. I find this particularly true during the day, so on days I'm not working I either find something else to do or watch something entertaining. Watching or listening to The History Channel is a great way to learn something while taking on other daily projects.
4:00 PM - 4:30 PM - Around The Horn (ESPN)
4:30 PM - 5:00 PM - Pardon The Interruption (ESPN)
I don't watch SportsCenter as much as I used to - I prefer ESPN.com for checking scores and reading the headlines. I do like to hear sportswriters debate about the stories of the day, and these two shows feature exactly that. These shows aren't necessarily the highest quality shows on TV, but they're good for entertainment value.
5:00 PM - 5:30 PM - Local News
I watch the closest NBC affiliate, but your preferences may vary.
5:30 PM - 6:00 PM - NBC Nightly News (NBC)
Again, I stick with NBC, but either one of the alternatives (ABC, CBS) are just as good. All of the anchormen have been around a long time and are well-respected, but they have their differences. I see NBC's Tom Brokaw as the senior of the three (he'll be the first to retire) and he's always been my favorite. CBS's Dan Rather has a little Texas cowboy in him (which serves him well), and ABC's Peter Jennings has the interesting perspective of being Canadian-born and of having years of experience as a foreign correspondent in the Middle East.
6:00 PM - 6:30 PM - Local News
More local news...I watch the same station that I watch at 5:00.
6:30 PM - 8:00 PM - Sometimes News, Sometimes Not
From 6:30 to 7:00 you can catch the second half of "The News with Brian Williams" on CNBC, or "Crossfire" on CNN. Then again, after having watched an hour and a half of news, maybe this is a good time to take a break. The 7:00 - 8:00 period is really a toss-up, so it just depends on that night's programming.
8:00 PM - 9:00 PM - Hardball (MSNBC)
Hardball with Chris Matthews is my favorite hour of news commentary and debate. Chris Matthews has really made a name for himself, and the parody of Hardball on NBC's Saturday Night Live certainly doesn't hurt. I think the Hardball College Tour is a particularly good idea, and Matthews knows how to keep a show moving.
9:00 PM - 10:00 PM - Good TV
Sure, you could watch Brian Williams on CNBC, but this is a good time to relax with some good TV. Tuesday has "The Shield" on FX, Wednesday has "Law & Order" on NBC, and Friday has "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit", also on NBC. Dave Chappelle has an excellent variety comedy show on Comedy Central at 9:30 on Wednesdays, and every night on Nick @ Nite you can find either "Cheers" or "The Cosby Show" (Fri. and Sat. only).
10:00 PM - 10:30 PM - The Daily Show (Comedy Central)
A brilliant mix of news and comedy, much in the tradition of Saturday Night Live's "Weekend Update". Jon Stewart is a great host, and after watching "serious" news, it's great to hear somebody poke fun at the serious topics of the day.
10:30 PM - 11:00 PM - Late Night with David Letterman (CBS)
Leno is good, but I prefer Letterman, and on most nights I don't watch past the first half hour.
11:00 PM - 12:00 AM - Larry King Live (CNN)
My interest varies greatly depending on Larry's guest, but this always one of the best interview shows on TV. "Hardball" is also replayed at this time, so I'll watch it if I missed it earlier. If all else fails, "The Cosby Show" is on Nick & Nite.
12:00 AM - 1:00 AM - NewsNight (CNN)
Aaron Brown hosts this show, and there's something easy-going, almost soothing about the way he gives the news. "Cheers" is on Nick & Nite if the news gets dull.
1:00 AM - 2:00 AM - Kudlow & Cramer (CNBC)
Kudlow & Cramer is actually on three times, first at 7 PM, then at 10 PM, and finally again at 1 AM. I might tune into it earlier in the evening, but most likely I'll see it real late. I try to keep up with financial news, but this is usually a good time to set the sleep timer on the TV.
Now let me make this clear - I don't watch this much TV every day! Or any day! I don't recommend watching this much TV, and I admire people who watch very little TV (as long as they still find ways to keep themselves informed). But when I'm working around the house, I generally have the TV on, and the shows I listed above are what I would generally watch at a given time. I think it's a pretty good list, and thankfully it contains none of the stereotypical "reality TV". Ick.