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NYT Columnist David Carr talks about his first semester as a BU professor

By Michelle Marino
MS Journalism ’15
BU College of Communication

For those lucky enough to attend BU Professor David Carr’s now sold out Fast Forward event at the Tsai Performance Center on October 20, he says it’s one he can genuinely recommend. “We’re both very honest and direct people,” says Carr of himself and event guest Jill Abramson, former Times executive editor. “She doesn’t mince words and I don’t really beat around the bush either.” Carr places most of the spotlight on Abramson, calling her a “ferocious” journalist and anticipates the event being not much different from a talk between the two on the train (Abramson currently teaches at Harvard, just across the river).

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The event will focus on new media and its impact on the field of journalism, both good and bad. Carr, who is currently testing out his first class “Press Play” this semester, teaches BU students the art of making and distributing content. He says the title of professor still hasn’t grown on him, but he trusts it will eventually. “It still kind of freaks me out,” he says. The class is small, with only 16 students and requires a writing sample and selection to get in. Carr says he cast the class to include students with varied backgrounds and expertise, since a lot of focus is placed on co-editing.

He thinks he’s done pretty well so far, and is pleasantly surprised by the students, who he calls “deadly serious.” Although he explains the sunk costs of starting a class are extremely high, he is learning and tweaking as he goes. Some challenges encountered have been balancing great guest speakers with other class activities, and sounding off on ideas that may take longer to implement in reality than in theory.

When asked what the most valuable skill a journalist today can have, Carr says it used to be just about resumes and clips, but now it’s about what can you make with “your own two dirty little hands.” He goes on to explain what he calls the “atomic skill”: “Can you write me 400 clean accurate words in a limited amount of time and find a way to distribute those words?”

In terms of the economy and journalism employment, he says there’s a lot more bounce than there used to be. At a recent event, he saw several companies hiring, something he wasn’t seeing a few years ago. Journalism is a field that’s always been difficult to get into, but Carr feels BU does a good job of exposing students to the waterfront of what they’ll encounter in the real world. “The world doesn’t tolerate tardiness or mediocrity,” he says, which is why he holds his students to a very high standard.

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Having a professor like David Carr at BU’s College of Communication is a real asset to the school, faculty and most of all students. His focus on new media is in the thick of where journalism is right now, and will continue in the future. If you’re interested in being placed on the waitlist for the David Carr and Jill Abramson event on October 20, click here.

Already have your tickets? Tell us in the comment section what you hope to gain from this event!

Interested in learning more about graduate school at BU’s College of Communication? Tell us what program (s) you are interested in and why. Also be sure to visit our homepage to learn more about what COM has to offer! 

About COMGrad

Boston University College of Communication offers graduate degrees in Mass Communication, Advertising & Public Relations; Emerging Media Studies; Film & Television; and Journalism. The mission of the College of Communication (COM) is to provide an educational center of excellence focused on teaching, research and service in the study and professional practice of communication.

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