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David Carr, media columist for the New York Times (Michael Falco for The Globe and Mail)
David Carr, media columist for the New York Times (Michael Falco for The Globe and Mail)


David Carr and journalism: old-media grampypants vs. new-media avatar Add to ...

And most of the money in media, a lot of the money in print media went first to Craigslist and then to Google. The subtraction of revenues led to deal flow and dynamism and lots pratfalling and lots of scrambling around. And probably news began to occur on the media beat, so it took what had been a very meta, sort of Boswellian – I write about people who write about people who write about people – into something that seemed to have stakes and implications. And in essence we moved into the middle of our own story, so it became interesting.

And the other thing I think that’s going on is – This week is a very good example of what i think my job is. Let me back up one second – on Thursday, the Yahoo guy [at the Democratic Convention] gets canned for a hot mic error and so: Is my thing, ‘Was that a fire-able offence?’ I don’t do that, I’m not much of a Church Lady, I don’t decide up and down, but I did do a blog post about – ‘When it comes to feeding all these platforms, you can fall into these crevasses between them. Who ever thought someone at a website would get canned for a hot mic error?’ So that sort of pull-back is important. I’m not very good on the news. I can remember when it became apparent that there’s something going on with bin Laden – had bin Laden been captured, or shot? And then I realized it’s blowing up on Twitter, and about that time I started to think – God, there’s a media component to this story, and I finally get around to opening up our blog, Media Decoder. Well, Brian Stelter already had 900 words – and it’s just, I got my nose broken. I had the right impulse but it’s like I was moving through Jell-O.

[So this week] the President talks to Reddit and in the context of NYT Monday biz section, even though Reddit is where a lot of the Internet lives, where much of the conversation goes on, there’s not a lot of visibility for my audience, so it becomes an opportunity for an explainer why the leader of the free world would deal in a social media platform they hadn’t heard of. And then: drop down – by the way, what VC or shiny web kids own this? Condé Nast – Advance Publications, and the intersect between old and new and the fact that Advance Publishing, in this instance had bought something and not engaged in the usual ritual sacrifice of turning it into something unrecognizable from what they bought – that’s a good Monday column.

I’m dumb enough to ask the right questions, which is – Why is the President talking to Reddit? Well – ‘Everybody knows why he’s talking to Reddit.’ Mmm, I don’t think everybody knows – and then smart enough to go and find the right answer. That’s – I don’t work from inside some smartypants new media bubble. I’m 55 yrs old, still get the daily paper – all that stuff.

Are you concerned you’ll be taken to task by those within the bubble who will say – you idiot, of course everybody knows why he’d talk to Reddit.

Oh yeah, I get a lot of that, I could care less. My main job is to be of service to readers of the NYT, and I don’t mean that in some crunchy do-gooder way. That is how I eat. So compared to cred on Twitter – I could care less, that’s how I get hamburgers. If I serve as an explainer – I went on Reddit where I’m a reader not a user and said: Explain this to me, explain – I don’t care. I think generally our job is to find people smarter than we are and ask them what they think.

I fight with Bruce Headlam, who’s my top editor, I’m always dumping quotes into my column and he says, ‘People care what you think,’ and a lot of times what I think is what they think. I’m not the kind of person who can just watch things going by and put a little extra sauce on it. I mean, I think I’m a good writer and a good thinker but my stuff always gets better with phone calls.

I think everybody’s does. Especially in a large and confusing field like this one. So, a few weeks ago, Fareed Zakaria ran into some problems – because, it appeared, he was just too busy, spreading himself too thin, on too many platforms. But you seem to be managing just fine. You’ve got the Sweet Spot, which probably takes much more time than it appears. You’ve got the column, you tweet, you’ve got the occasional hit on the Media Decoder blog.

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