Tag Archives: David Carr

PHOTO BY SARAH FISHER/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

David Carr and Jill Abramson discuss the future of media

By Michelle Marino
MS Journalism ’15
BU College of Communication

“Switch to something forward-looking, like blacksmithing,” David Carr teased, breaking the ice on his outlook for journalism at his much anticipated Fast Forward event. The event, which also included his former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson, was equal parts laid back and engaging. It kicked off by Carr fielding a few brief questions on the future of journalism and the media with WBUR & NPR’s Here & Now co-host Jeremy Hobson.

Carr went on to explain there is a place in journalism for people who can create a concise piece of work and effectively distribute it to the right audience. When asked about the future of media, he didn’t make outright predictions but touched on issues facing print, the trouble of being a mid-sized publication, the declining influence of cable news and the transformation of newspapers to daily magazines. Talking about change, he explained how it usually comes very slowly, and then all at once. He likened print to intellectual jewelry, saying, “In 10 years, print will be a luxury artifact – web will be the primary vehicle.” He also discussed the importance of curation and the organization of news in a world of relentless information and content personalization.

Carr then took over as host, with Jill Abramson joining him onstage. The dynamic between the two was casual and jovial. The conversation flowed freely and without formality, Carr often probing and Abramson answering. Topics ranged from Ebola to the American Dream to the current generation. Carr calls worrying about successive generations a “waste of time”, saying “This generation is serious…we’re just pot smokers.”

Abramson was forthcoming on her career with the Times, saying “I devoted my career to telling the truth and the truth is I’m fired!” She said she misses the chase of being in the thick of the news, but she is enjoying her new role as a professor at Harvard. Much to everyone’s surprise, she nonchalantly dropped the news of a startup she is pitching with journalist Steven Brill, which will have her writing one long-form story annually. On news competition, she says she ceased thinking of other news organizations, as competition is coming from everywhere.

In closing, Abramson shared the best advice she ever received related to journalism: “Shut up and listen.” It was eye opening and entertaining to watch two of media’s most influential players bat ideas around and gain valuable insight.
Boston University is lucky to have Carr as a professor here at the College of Communication. Next semester, he’ll be teaching Media Criticism JO500.  If you’re interested in joining Professor Carr’s class, you can apply by critiquing a piece of media content in any medium you like. In the meantime, Abramson will continue to pursue her startup. So, shut up and stay tuned!

To find out about more events going on at BU’s College of Communication, check out the calendar here

 

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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!

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