Hacking the News

Last week before our show on violent extremism, we were talking over a big week in media news. We don’t quite know what we’ll do without Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert; we never had much use for Brian Williams or the latest iteration of The New Republic, but Bob Simon was the real deal.

The dream guest to talk it through was David Carr, the New York Times legend and booster, who had come last fall to Boston University to teach budding journalists. Carr was honest but balanced, candid, self-conscious, and lively. And he managed to avoid the solipsism that comes with media on media. So we wrote David that afternoon, and of course discovered that night that we had lost him, too.

We spoke to some of Carr’s students this week, and discovered that he was almost utopian about the future of news media. The Carr line was that journalism is a joyful job — hardly ‘work’ —and that there were so many new ways to join the conversation. In the next century, he thought, more diverse groups of more people are going to tell more stories, and the New York Times will weather all the change. How could that be anything but good news?

But there are warning signs all over that big-paper model, evident recently around the war in Iraq. So this week, we’re hacking journalism in the shadow of David Carr. We’re calling reporters and others from all over who want to build a better media establishment: more comprehensive and inclusive, more credible, and less the captive of power when it counts.

(Our apologies for the audio problems on Chris Lehmann’s line — take it as proof that this journalism work is a kind of trapeze act, and that things, sometimes, go wrong.)

That “New Media” Sound


Venture capital flows into media startups, so we’re keeping our ears out for the sound of new journalism. Call it a “new media mashup” of the storytellers behind #storytelling—Amy O’Leary of the Times’ Innovation Report, Alex Blumberg of Gimlet, Jonah Peretti of Buzzfeed, and others.

The top photo of David Carr was taken by Nicholas Bilton in his own backyard. Bilton was a close friend and colleague of Carr’s and posted his own beautiful reminiscence on Medium.

Guest List
Chris Lehmann
co-editor of BookForum, senior editor for The Baffler, and author of Rich People Things: Secrets of the Predator Class.
Laurie Penny
a British feminist, journalist, current Nieman fellow and author (most recently) of Unspeakable Things: Sex, Lies, and Revolution.
and a Greek chorus of young journalists
including Derrick Ashong, formerly of Fusion and al-Jazeera, now the founder and CEO of amp.it; Ayesha Siddiqi, editor-in-chief of The New Inquiry; Dylan Matthews, 'minister without portfolio' at Vox; and Farnaz Fassihi of The Wall Street Journal.

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  • Potter

    Thanks Pete- I agree with a lot of what you say.

    WBUR’s On Point has an interview on it’s website with David Carr from 2013 worth a listen. He is very sanguine on the changes in the news media. I have read a few of Carr’s columns and thought them outstanding, but I was not a regular reader. Now that he is gone, we will know what we are missing. Good for the New York Times for having him. A lifelong reader of the NYTimes. I have recently switched to the online version almost completely. Long ago, in the 70’s we took the Boston Globe every day but I could never attach myself to it, ot tired of it, the lack of proper editing ( I know I don’t myself) but never tired of George Frazier’s columns and his opinions about who had or did not have that “Duende”. My kind of journalist!. But there are different journalisms. I can’t find better than the NYTimes for foreign correspondence/reporting. John Burns. True I don’t look hard but…. I do hear a good reporting on NPR and the BBC. By noodling around the internet I think I find the good articles. I am my own curator now. Can’t read them all, can’t know everything I need to know. The NYTimes did a very good job, and still does on finding stories that should be told. The job is way too big.

    I am currently having a run-in with the Times about their online advertising ( jumping and auto-play intrusively rude ads) and some choices for their front page ( like Bruce Jenner’s supposed sex change- dpes the NY Times have to be Huffington Post?). My antennae are up for this deterioration that happens when a news organization is looking for “views” or “clicks” so badly that they go for the sensational. I hate to see that happen to the Grey Lady.

  • yamini

    Great show as ever. It’s a pity, and a surprise, that Laurie Penny’s understanding of privilege is so shallow and that her preferred criteria for judging young journalists are their skin color and whether they possess a Y-chromosome. As a young freelance journalist, female and non-white, I’d much rather be judged by the quality of my work, thank you very much.

  • BWC

    Laurie Penney’s simplistic statements about white men were off the rails. Her critique was so prejudiced that it should not warrant hearing more from her on any future broadcasts.