David Carr is a media columnist for The New York Times and the star of Andrew Rossi’s new documentary Page One: Inside the New York Times. I saw Page One earlier this week at the New Zealand International Film Festival and while I found it to be an insightful and rare glimpse behind the scenes of the newspaper industry during a time of crisis, the film lacks the skill of the Times media staff it is documenting. Luckily for the filmmakers one of these staffers is the raspy-voiced, charismatic hero David Carr. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times sums up Carr’s appeal aptly: “he combines cynicism, idealism and a canny understanding of how things really work.” I recommend seeing Page One purely for Carr’s moments of greatness (he regularly destroys moronic bloggers in arguments over the necessity of the Times), but the film will also appeal to anyone with an interest in print media and journalism.
Carr appeared on tonight’s episode of The Colbert Report to discuss Page One. Watch his interview below.
Oscar-winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network, The West Wing) recently interviewed Carr for Interview Magazine. It’s a fascinating discussion between two highly intelligent and respected writers on journalism, print media and of course the Page One documentary. Read an excerpt below.
SORKIN: Do you think that a kid now who is writing for his high-school newspaper and goes on to Northwestern still aspires to write for The New York Times?
CARR: I don’t know. I teach here and there, and the problem is that the escalator that brings you to the quality weekly, the small daily, the small regional daily, the bigger daily, the higher quality regional paper, and then on to The New York Times—that escalator is broken. I do think that there are a lot of great places for a young writer to aspire to work for, and some of them are on paper and some of them are not. But I think one of the things that Page One does an amazing job of demonstrating is the importance of editors. You can see our editor, Bruce Headlam, shaping, arguing, pushing back. Of course, that’s what you don’t have a lot of in the blogosphere. There is nobody pushing people to support what they’re saying, nobody arguing against the assumptions that are brought to the table—and reporters, even the ones I work with, are full of all sorts of notions. Some of them have ideas that are pretty hair-brained or not really provable.
For anyone keen on a taste of Carr’s writing you can read his latest column on Rupert Murdoch and the News Corp scandal over at The New York Times website. Read an excerpt from ‘Troubles That Money Can’t Dispel’ below.
“Bury your mistakes,” Rupert Murdoch is fond of saying. But some mistakes don’t stay buried, no matter how much money you throw at them.
Time and again in the United States and elsewhere, Mr. Murdoch’s News Corporation has used blunt force spending to skate past judgment, agreeing to payments to settle legal cases and, undoubtedly more important, silence its critics. In the case of News America Marketing, its obscure but profitable in-store and newspaper insert marketing business, the News Corporation has paid out about $655 million to make embarrassing charges of corporate espionage and anticompetitive behavior go away.
That kind of strategy provides a useful window into the larger corporate culture at a company that is now engulfed by a wildfire burning out of control in London, sparked by the hacking of a murdered young girl’s phone and fed by a steady stream of revelations about seedy, unethical and sometimes criminal behavior at the company’s newspapers.
If you would like to keep up to date with everything David Carr, you can follow him on Twitter: @carr2n.
Check out the trailer for Page One: Inside the New York Times below.