David Carr #NYT and fearless journalism…

If you missed BBC 4’s excellent documentary on journalism in a digital age, then it is well worth the hour and a half it takes to watch on the iPlayer this weekend… (I want the DVD if it ever comes out in that format)…

I remember talking with John Lloyd at the Frontline Club in London a few years back when wikileaks was pouring out all those clipped insights from the US State Department, and recall him saying that we may be in danger of developing something like a cult of revelation…

That is, when a citizen discovers some fact or other about government, or a politician, which was previously hidden, it is too easy to ascribe an importance to that revelation it simply does not have.. in the run up to the last Presidential election, US blogger Mickey Kaus noted some of the effects of this endless speculation and online gossip..

Storyville provides as robust a defence of quality journalism as I have seen anywhere.. When you get a call from David Carr, you’d better have your story straight… no matter what a million blogs are saying. Carr:

…some stories are beyond the database, in some stories people have to hit phones, hit the streets and walk past conventional wisdom.

As someone once said Ian Paisley, he has “a rough tongue like an old cow” and the singular focus and tenacity to disturb mammon, if not the devil.

My own favourite moment was an elegantly handled confrontation with Michael Wolffe of Newser.com at an Intelligence Squared event (I presume in New York):

GOOD RIDDANCE TO MAINSTREAM MEDIA (Full Debate) from Intelligence Squared U.S. on Vimeo.

Storyville extracted a part of the debate, where Wolffe argues…

“…the media is a technology business, that’s what it is… that’s what it’s always been… technology changes, the media changes… after that, it’s over… the News business in this country is nothing to be proud of.. Oblivion…”

Then Carr, gifted story teller, responds…

“Over time, the audience has switched to the web.. the audience that’s worth buck in print is now worth a dime, or a penny on the web… because we end up competing oftentimes against our own work, aggregated.

Newser’s a great looking site, and you might want to check it out, it aggregates all manner of content… But I wonder Michael’s really thought through getting rid of mainstream media content… Okay, go ahead.

And he holds up a print off of Newsers front page with mainstream content cut out…


If you have the least interest in the future of journalism… go watch it… At last, a fearless journalist speaks eloquently on behalf of his own, much put upon, professional caste…

If journalism is to be saved it needs such confident responses to the dismal tide of closures which have been emptying newsrooms from north America, London, Dublin and Belfast. The fight back starts with the confident demonstration of value.

Further reading…

Sulzberger at the LSE

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