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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