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Posts Tagged ‘David Carr’

Carr's 2008 memoir, The Night of the Gun

Carr’s 2008 memoir, The Night of the Gun

Last night’s death of David Carr leaves a bigger hole in the media than the suspension of Brian Williams from NBC News or the planned departure of Jon Stewart from The Daily Show. 

By coincidence, Carr’s last Media Decoder column/post for the New York Times was about the simultaneous career changes of Williams and Stewart (as was my most recent blog post). I really don’t care much who fills the NBC anchor chair while Williams is gone for six months or longer, and I’m only mildly interested in the jockeying for Stewart’s chair. But I worry about who will decode media for the Times, and I doubt anyone can approach Carr’s mastery of this field that I cover and teach and where for decades I worked (unless this blog and occasional consulting entitle me to still use the present tense).

I didn’t make this about me so quickly (and it won’t be for long) to compare myself to Carr. I would lose such a comparison quickly, as you can tell if you read the Williams/Stewart links above.

And I certainly don’t claim any special connection (we never met). My only Decoder mention that Google can find or that I can recall was a derisive dismissal of my paywall criticism (which I defended in a comment on Carr’s post). We never exchanged emails (not because I never sent him one), but I think we had a Twitter exchange or two. But the first tweet I found from Carr directed at me was also derisive:

That criticism I defended as well, but here’s the point: Carr’s opinion and analysis mattered. When he disagreed with you, you stopped a moment to ponder his point, and, even if he didn’t win you over, he made you think. His reporting was thorough, his analysis incisive, his criticism fair. (more…)

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I must correct, or expand upon, something I posted earlier today. In writing about an absurd correction in the New York Times, I wrote that the Times “certainly doesn’t require linking to digital sources of information.”

Whether I was correct depends upon your definition of the word require. If it means that you have a policy encouraging links in some situations and making them mandatory in others, the Times requires links. But if require means staff members actually practice that policy, the Times falls short.

Patrick LaForge, Editor for News Presentation at the Times, sent me the following passage from the New York Times Stylebook:

Link is acceptable in reference to a hyperlink on the web. If an article refers to material of interest to readers, such as a website, document, image or video, provide an embedded link as a convenience. Readers also value links to background information and other useful content. When crediting a competitor, providing a link is mandatory.

That’s the first part of a longer entry on links. For context, I’ll post the rest at the end of this post.

That’s a better policy than most, but it’s not strong enough. It doesn’t address linking as a matter of ethics, just as a “convenience” and “value” to readers. The only mandatory part is linking to competitors, which I applaud, since news organizations are shamefully reluctant to do that. And linking should be addressed in ethics codes and policies, not just stylebooks.

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Friday’s letter to newsroom curmudgeons resulted in my busiest day ever on this blog, 4,882 views, smashing my previous record by 58 percent. After less than 72 hours online, the post is already my fourth most-viewed post in three-plus years blogging here. With more than 80 comments, I presume it already is my most-discussed post, though I should note that probably a third or more of those are me responding to comments.

Few things I have written have received as much praise or as much criticism (the two often go together), certainly not in their first day or two after publication. I try to make a common theme of this blog discussions of digital journalism and lessons we can learn about what works and what doesn’t. This post worked and failed in notable ways, so I should try to learn (or relearn) something from the experience:

Pronouns matter. I made some of the same points about curmudgeons in a post last fall. That post answered a question from someone asking how to “convert” curmudgeons to using Twitter. So I responded in the third person, essentially discussing curmudgeons behind their backs as him and her. That post got some attention, one of my top 40 in page views, but it only got half as much traffic as Friday’s post got on its first day. It made a difference, I’m sure, to address my post to curmudgeons, inviting people to email the link to a curmudgeon or to print it out for one to read. In another post a couple years ago, I wrote in the first person about how I redirected and rejuvenated my career. It offered sincere advice to others, and advice that stems from personal experience can be the most valuable advice. But unless you are sharing the lessons from your mistakes, advice offered in the first person always has a boastful tone, however helpful you’re trying to be. “I” is not an engaging pronoun. “You” is one of the most engaging words in our language, and it worked in this post. (more…)

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I followed this up with a subsequent post on Saturday, Jan. 16.

The reaction to How News Happens may tell us more about the news industry than the study itself does.

The study of the news ecosystem in Baltimore  was published today by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, and news of the report was first published Sunday. The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, editorsweblog and more tweets than I could count trumpeted the finding that most news originates with newspapers and those upstart blogs contribute barely a trickle of original news. The favorite fact cited was that 95 percent of stories reporting fresh information came from the endangered old media, newspapers primarily. (more…)

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While I am critical of the Columbia University report, The Reconstruction of American Journalism, I am pleased that it has stirred debate about the future of journalism. Here are the most interesting takes I have seen on the report by Columbia journalism professor Michael Schudson and former Washington Post executive editor Leonard Downie Jr:

Tom Grubisch ripped into Downie and Schudson in OJR: The Online Journalism Review, calling it the kind of “shallow analysis that typically informs newspaper editorials on big issues.” Be sure to read Robert Niles’ comment. He sees Downie and Schudson as speaking for news industry leaders who “chose to ignore, marginalize or even demonize voices who argued that the news industry must change its procedures, in both editorial and business operations, to compete online.” Now, Niles says, “top news company managers are working their way through the stages of grief.” The Downie/Schudson report, Niles said, represents the stages of anger and bargaining. (more…)

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Update: Michael Schudson has responded to this post.

Whatever else it is, The Reconstruction of American Journalism is not comprehensive.

Leonard Downie Jr., former executive editor of the Washington Post, and Michael Schudson, authors of the Columbia University report, described their work in the Post today as a “comprehensive report.” They recommend federal subsidies for news organizations and changes in federal law to allow more philanthropic support for journalism. More on those topics later.

Here’s what the report does not address in any meaningful way:

  • The role of social media in the future of journalism.
  • The failure of media companies to develop new business models.
  • The possibility of developing new business models that rely on the free market, rather than charity or taxpayers. (more…)

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This post is now out of date: I just posted my response to this report: American media need innovation, not subsidy.

I will be blogging later today on a report released by Columbia University titled The Reconstruction of American Journalism.

From a summary in the Washington Post by the report’s authors, former Washington Post Executive Editor Len Downie and Columbia Professor Michael Schudson, the report seems to focus on steps the government can take to prop up traditional news reporting models.

David Carr of the New York Times seems to indicate the same thing in his column on the same report.

I have serious doubts about the approach as summarized. But I won’t comment further until later (it’s printing out now and I will read it right away). Jeff Jarvis shares my doubts. I’d like to hear what you think.

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