‘Old media’ gatekeepers
no longer matter, he says
“The Media Equation” Columnist David Carr is seen at his desk in “Page One,” the behind-the-scenes documentary about a year at The Gray Lady.
FOR ANYONE WHO WISHES to understand the rapidly evolving media landscape that envelops us all, David Carr’s “The Media Equation” column which appears in the Monday editions of The New York Times is essential reading.
Carr, a self-admitted former drug addict, has the uncanny ability to connect the dots before anybody else.
His Monday column, “Big news forges its own path” is an example of this.
The essence of the column is summarized in the call-out: “If the story is big enough, it will be seen by all no matter who first covers it.”
GOING A LITTLE DEEPER into it, Carr explains how tiny news outlets (or even medium sized ones like Gawker) can now break stories of major national significance.
To understand how Carr can be so brilliant, it’s helpful to watch “Page One: A Year Inside The New York Times,” the Andrew Rossis documentary, which had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival and was then released by Magnolia Pictures. (View the trailer here)
Carr serves as one of the principal narrators in this documentary that
TV Decoder writer Brian Stelter parried with Carr in “Page One.” He was then identified as “media desk reporter.”
takes us behind the scenes at The Gray Lady, during the time when Bill Keller was the executive editor.
“At the tender age of 31,” Carr reveals, “I still had a year left to be … the violent drug snorting thug before I found my way to this guy …(Tim Arango, identified as a NYT media desk reporter) one with a family and a job at the New York Times…”
He adds later: “I’ve been a single-parent on welfare.”
Also featured in “Page One” is Brian Stelter, then a media desk reporter.
“I don’t know why anybody who is a reporter isn’t on Twitter,” Stelter says.
Carr shoots back: “I still can’t get over the feeling that Brian Stelter was a robot assembled to destroy me.”
A few seconds later the narrator poses the existential issue for the New York Times:
The blurb that accompanies the trailer for “Page One.” Click image to view trailer.
“The old newspaper model is dying,” we are told.
Carr responds: “Could The New York Times go out of business?….” but he doesn’t answer the question.
The answer, or a version of it, comes in his Monday column: essentially it is, “Adapt or die.”
“News no longer needs the permission of traditional gatekeepers to break through,” Carr writes.
“Scoops can now come from all corners of the media map and find an audience just by virtue of what they reveal.”
IN FACT THIS CONCLUSION is somewhat related to what NYT Public Editor Margaret Sullivan wrote in January.
In “Milestone Behind, a Mountain Ahead” she says it is the readers who will save the New York Times. Her column starts with this:
“A NOTE to Times readers: You matter. And you matter now more than ever before.”
She then goes on to explain how for the first time in its history, The New York Times in 2012 received more income from subscriptions that advertising.
“In 2012, something remarkable happened at The Times. It was the year that circulation revenue — money made from people buying the paper or access to its digital edition — surpassed advertising revenue,” Sullivan wrote.
She then quotes reporter Jodi Kantor, who Tweeted: “For years folks have asked who will save the N.Y. Times. Now we know: our beloved readers….”
There is the answer, David. Sure The New York Times could go out of business, but thanks to folks like you, it wont.