February 11, 2014 – David Carr’s column on media and culture at The New York Times is “required reading” for anyone in the business, said Shorenstein Center Director Alex S. Jones at the first speaker event of the spring semester. Carr shared his thoughts on changing media models, and how old and new media “are marching toward each other.”
With new sites such as Medium, which Carr described as a “typewriter for the Internet” and “a dreamy, lovely…way of getting copy up on the web,” the entire platform of news is changing. “It’s not push, it’s pull,” he said. “If people want it, they’ll grab it and pull it back.” This more interactive news distribution is put into practice by sites that allow users to “vote up” for the content they want and like. There is an “absence of friction” in new media platforms, Carr said, and an “ability to go out toward an audience—which is the original promise of the web.” Building on this is a “huge migration of talent and capital into the digital space,” he said.
These new “excellent and growing” sites—Gawker, BuzzFeed, Business Insider—are taking from the “great, vast sea of information and editing, selecting it, surfacing it” in ways that are visually appealing to consumers, Carr said. They are putting “new skin on a constantly changing world of news.” While “some call it aggregation, others call it stealing,” these sites are hiring more reporters and producing serious content, he pointed out.
“Things are changing very rapidly,” he concluded, and “as practitioners, we have to change with it.” In addition to his Times column, Carr blogs, tweets and will host a series of video chats with film critic A.O. Scott during the Oscars. “But I really have never had more fun than right now. If you’re a media reporter, hold your hands out like it’s raining.”
Article and photos by Janell Sims, Shorenstein Center.