Wick Communications

Us vs. Them III

In Media on October 7, 2011 at 9:05 am

Do yourself a favor: See Page One.

It’s a documentary subtitled, “Inside the New York Times.” It’s really more of a snapshot of the way the nation’s best newspaper is weathering industry-changing times. It focuses on several compelling characters at the Times, none of them more compelling than a guy named David Carr. (Carr showed up on the list of books in The Kicker for his breath-taking memoir, “The Night of the Gun.”) I love David Carr. His writing is so conversational and yet so learned… he’s the kind of writer I’ve always aspired to be.

He’s also fearless in the face of power. As he says in the movie, he’s been a drug-addicted single parent on welfare. He’s not afraid of much after that.

Here’s the official trailer for the movie. (You may not be able to find it in your area. It played exactly once in my neighborhood, at a film festival. You might have to dial it up on Netflix.) If you can’t find the movie, watch the first 1:30 of this clip from the PBS show Need to Know. In the clip, Carr has had enough of these new media hipsters at a New York startup called “Vice.” The founder, Shane Smith, is trying to tell Carr that he’s the only one willing to tell the truth about Liberia. He’s suggesting that the mainstream media can’t really be trusted to tell important truths. Carr has the perfect response, one that every newspaper reporter has wanted to give at some time or other. …

Carr is no luddite. He understands the importance of new technology and is a prolific tweeter. (Search for @carr2n.) He even wrote a fair, generally complimentary story about those Vice guys who insulted him. As a media columnist he is fully aware of the role of social media in Arab Spring and is not merely an old guy in the winter of his discontent. He is relentless, articulate, talented … in other words, a perfect spokesman for us ink-stained scribes.

It’s impossible to watch Page One and look forward to a media landscape full of Shane Smiths, with no place for David Carr.

Oh, one last thing. Carr and I traded emails this week. He has a signature on his New York Times emails that is a quote from one of my other great literary heroes, Hunter S. Thompson: “Call on God, but row away from the rocks.” Good advice.

Clay

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