Uses This

A collection of nerdy interviews asking people from all walks of life what they use to get the job done.

A picture of Caitlin Dewey

Caitlin Dewey

Enterprise reporter

in mac, reporter

Who are you, and what do you do?

Hi! I'm Caitlin Dewey. My day job is in local news -- I'm an enterprise reporter for the daily paper in Buffalo, N.Y., which is where I grew up and where I returned a few years ago after a stint in Washington. I'm also a regular freelance writer for a number of national publications, a fellowship advisor at the Poynter Institute, and the curator of a weekly tech and culture newsletter, "Links I Would Gchat You If We Were Friends," which has been running on and off since before newsletters were cool.

What hardware do you use?

My hardware set-up is … probably not worth writing home about, tbh? My 10-year-old MacBook died early on in the pandemic, and since then I've used my work-issued Dell laptop for everything. I have ambitions of buying a Google Pixelbook and some extra monitors, but I haven't pulled the trigger yet -- partially because I'm not 100% sure a Chromebook will be "enough" (whatever that means?) (maybe a reader can advise??) and partially because my home office is in the attic of our 110-year-old house, which we've been renovating since October. So: I don't have a desk anyway, there's no point to a fancy set-up! I also have a Kindle, where I do a lot of reading. And an iPhone, which I use to record interviews. If I'm writing longhand, I'm mostly doing it in those skinny reporter's notebooks, largely because they're free at work.

And what software?

I do almost all of my actual work -- writing, taking interview notes, whatever -- in Chrome using G Suite, especially Google Docs and Sheets. I do have to use Outlook and Teams for my day job. But even then, I send important emails through my personal Gmail account so I can use MailTracker to see if/when they've been opened.

I have also spent literal years developing a complex and deeply boring bookmarking workflow with the secret hope that someone would ask me about it... so thank you. The challenge for me, basically, is that I have to consume a ton of material for research and story idea generation, across a lot of different subjects and with several different end products in mind. To manage that, I've created a series of Google Sheets for each interest area (work research, freelance pitches, newsletter links, etc.) and attached them to Pocket through IFTTT. Every time I tag an article in Pocket "tbn," an entry goes on my Buffalo News spreadsheet. Then I can further sort and label them there, as needed.

Other tools I really like, all of them web-based and mostly free: I use Feedly as my RSS reader, Todoist as my task manager and TweetDeck to keep an eye on Twitter. (It looks like I don't follow a lot of people, but I keep a zillion private Twitter lists and searches.) I pay for P2K, which packages articles from Pocket into Kindle ebooks -- but I am using that less than I used to, so I might give it up. I use Calendly to schedule interviews and to transcribe them. I also like and the ContactOut extension for finding/verifying email addresses. On a completely unrelated note, I downloaded a great, barebones gratitude/journaling app called Morning! at the beginning of the year, and I really love it. I've cycled through a lot of journaling apps, but this is the first one to stick. (I'm also still on the hunt for a good call-recording app, if you have recommendations!!)

What would be your dream setup?

Honestly, when the construction debris clears, I think the attic is going to be it. It's a small, carpeted room with sloped ceilings, just big enough for some bookshelves, a comfy chair (I hope?), an electric kettle, a bunch of houseplants and my estate sale desk. When I get a new computer and those extra monitors, we'll really be in business.

Uses This is supported by ZSA, makers of the Moonlander, ErgoDox EZ and Planck EZ keyboards. They also publish an awesome newsletter.