David Carr, a Great Voice, Gone Too Soon
The Times put David Carr on the front page, above the fold, as well they should.
He gave everything he had until he collapsed in the office Thursday evening and passed at 58.
He was a voice, an honest voice, a reliable voice, a smart voice.
I never met him – that happens at such a large paper – but I read him, and I knew about him, his long addiction, his rehabs, which only made me respect what he accomplished even more, but mostly I knew him through the digging he did and the insights he provided.
He was burning it in recent days -- my wife said he looked like hell on the tube early Thursday -- explaining all the breaking media news. I can only guess at the high-wire act to write, edit and print the obituary on the front page, in literally minutes, before the first edition of “the paper.That tangible part of journalism still matters in these digital times, as David Carr noted so well.
* * *
With homage to that great pro, I’d like to drop a few other current thoughts on the media:
*- I have never totally trusted the concept of the anchor, those great men and occasional women, who spoon-feed us the news on television. I grew up on Edward R, Murrow and his CBS colleagues at the end of the war. They were reporters; today’s anchors are performers. I always thought Brian Williams was a symptom of the time -- show biz. I’ve often wondered when anchors are preening in front of the camera how they managed to do any reporting.
*- Bob Simon of CBS was the real deal, a correspondent who went to all those places, with a staff, of course, but also with reporter smarts. When he reported on 60 Minutes, you knew he had done the homework. His death in an auto crash brought out a very impressive detail: he had just worked on a piece on Ebola medicine, at the age of 73.
*- I’ve always been leery of the Jon Stewart-Stephen Colbert school. They are funny, but perhaps without meaning to they have insinuated themselves ahead of reality. For the new generation that does not read newspapers, they are the first line of information. Kids hear about vital events from a very savvy adult making yuks on the tube. Not Stewart’s fault. Our fault.
Stewart’s remark to Brian Williams’ face is classic: “You don’t write any of that stuff,” Stewart told Williams, as David Carr reported on his final day. “They take you out of the vegetable crisper five minutes before the show and they put you in front of something that is spelled out phonetically. I know how this goes.”
*-And finally, I have no problem with President Obama’s video for BuzzFeed, to promote the program bringing health care to more people. (How dare he!) We all know Obama is a writer and a performer and a wannabe hoopster. He made me and my wife – who predicted his victory in 2007 – roar with his delivery in the BuzzFeed video. Some people may fret that the President demeans the office. (That is Boehner's and McConnell's job.) I say, let the man have a few minutes of fun.
2/13/2015 04:03:14 am
Great David Carr tribute, George. I, too, was a fan. I especially liked his exchanges with A.O. Scott, even when they didn't particularly soar. And rest in peace, Bob Simon. As to the future of news, for those of us older than 60 and who remember (sometime selectively!) the halcyon days of Cronkite et al, the outlook does appear troubled. But I continue to hope and believe that we are living in a chaotic, transitional time and that new norms and standards will evolve that manage to blend the best of old-school accuracy, balance and professionalism with whatever the latest social media or new tech media platform will offer. I have to believe that citizens ultimately crave truth and objectivity. But the tribal behavior that characterizes our society and political life has derailed the truth imperative. The popularity of Stewart and Colbert I think is proof that the desire/demand is still there, if very imperfectly delivered by our media institutions in the present day. In the meantime, there's the PBS News Hour and BBC News...Cheers, Peter
2/13/2015 08:06:04 am
Peter, thanks for your always enlightened comment. I could have added that we get our news-news from the Euro News and BBC, Nos 103-104 in our Cablevision scorecard, as well as PBS. And listen to WNYC-FM. And Steve Kornacki is a terrific reporter and discussion-leader on MSNBC on Sat-Sun mornings. I think the network news is broken irrevocably and that the Williams developments prove it. Thanks, GV
2/14/2015 04:24:45 am
George, you read my mind on Williams, Simon and Colbert/Stewart. But I suppose that should not surprise me. I grew up on Cronkite and Huntley/Brinkley. Even got to meet Cronkite and have lunch with him in 1976.Those guys were about the journalism. They had weight. They mattered. Their present-day counterparts are mostly about the hair, and are mostly lightweights.
2/14/2015 07:24:08 am
John, we have the same birthday, so we should have the same mentality. The system is broken. Even 15-20 years ago, networks had more correspondents out there. My friend Bill Montalbano kept an eye on Spain and Italy for one of the networks. Then they started closing bureaus, preferring to helicopter in the current Great Man -- which led to Anderson Cooper standing bewildered in some conflict zone, screaming, "This is unbelievable!" Just like Murrow in London. GV
2/15/2015 08:35:05 am
Time and Newsweek used to have bureaus in every major city, in the USA and abroad. Now Newsweek is pretty much dead, and Time is a shadow of its former self, struggling weekly to remain relevant. And most of those bureaus no longer exist.
2/15/2015 10:39:55 am
Pardon, the commercial, but that's why I love the NYT so much. Even n these "interesting times," they have people who wake up in places like Rome and Buenos Aires and Tokyo and Nairobi. I was a correspondent in Appalchia for 2 years. woke up in Louisville most mornings and could get to Nashville or Charleston or Cincnnati if stuff happened, or just getting the feel of another state. They still spend the money. GV
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“I don’t think people understand how Covid affects older Americans,” Mr. Caretti said with frustration. “In 2020, there was this all-in-this-together vibe, and it’s been annihilated. People just need to care about other people, man. That’s my soapbox.”
---Vic Caretti, 47, whose father recently died of Covid at 85.
---From an article by Paula Span, who covers old age for the NYT, which currently has 2646 comments, the majority criticizing the American public – and public officials – for acting as if the pandemic is “over.”
Classic wishful thinking, at a lethal level.