As a term, media is such an all-encompassing word. It includes a impossible range of different businesses, ventures, and facets – from entertainment to public interest journalism, from TV movies to ads – that it can be almost absurd to make any judgments on the current state of ‘the media’ at all. But if pressed to, the perhaps one undeniable thing one could say about the media at large, is that these are interesting times for the industry. From the rapid rise of Netflix, to the continuing struggles of newspapers, and the upending of the broadcast model of television, there’s a lot to talk about. Who ever thought that Amazon would be getting into the business of making television?
Not only is the entire range of the industry in flux, but also never before has media in general played such a large role in our day-to-day lives. From articles on Facebook, to YouTube videos, radio, podcasts, television, ebooks; for many of us, a huge percentage of our waking hours outside of work, (and often even inside of it) involves consuming media of one sort or another. Especially in this age of ubiquitous screens, it seems we can hardly escape it.
And then there are the issues facing the media and journalistic worlds more generally. From Telecom monopolies and threats to internet neutrality, to the crack down on journalistic sources, and the treatment of the Snowden revelations, there’s a lot to get a handle on.
Well to delve into such questions facing journalism, and the larger media world there’s few better sources than David Carr and his weekly column in the New York Times – an always fascinating look at an industry in flux, and one which never fails to leave the reader mulling over the implications. From examining newspaper acquisitions, and media upstarts, to painting a portrait of Glenn Greenwald, David Carr has become the closest thing to required reading one can get for those interested in the changing face of the media.
David Carr also has followed what might just count as one of the most unlikely paths to becoming a New York Times journalist that one could imagine- or at least the context of his early foray’s into journalism aren’t exactly what you would advise an ambitious young reporter. As a man in his 20’s living in Minnesota, Carr was starting to write successfully for various papers and magazines when he began to get deeper into drugs, a road that saw him get fired from his newspaper job, get into repeated trouble with the law, and eventually hit more or less rock bottom. It’s a descent and ultimately redemption story that he recounts in his gripping and brutally honest 2008 best selling memoir, The Night of the Gun.
I headed down to New York and sat down with David Carr this past May to ask him for his thoughts on the challenges facing traditional media, what the role of journalism is in the changing context of the times, and a bit about his own turbulent past. What resulted was a fascinating, wide-ranging conversation, that even included a bit of sparring. Here’s our interview: https://soundcloud.com/kevincaners/davidcarr