“You can’t know the whole truth, but if there is one, it lies in the space between two people.” – David Carr, September 8, 1956-February 12, 2015
A colleague of mine, David Carr from the New York Times, died tonight. We weren’t best friends, but we shared a couple of meals, drinks, and had some great conversations since he started covering media for the Grey Lady.
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What I always loved about David was that he was an actual reporter. He called and emailed me many times to get background on a topic — most of the times I was never in those stories. I loved that; he was doing actual reporting.
Take note cub reporters, calling 10 people for every two you quote in your story is how you do it right. Of course, most “publications” and “journalists” don’t do anything close to this today. If they did, they would be writing level-headed, fair, insightful, and intelligent pieces — like David did. I didn’t always agree with his conclusions, but boy did I look forward to reading him.
There is a real issue in society today because journalism is failing to do basic things like research, background, and fact-checking. News organizations like the NY Times are up against “entertainment & news” hybrid organizations like Buzzfeed and they’re losing the page view wars.
However, this news business is a pendulum that swings back and forth between pandering and powerful, lazy and obsessive, and “fair and balanced” as a slogan designed to taunt competitors — not describe the product.
David was one of the greats because he knew that even if you do all the work, make all the phone calls, and figure out where all the bodies are buried, you still might not actually find the exact truth.
His wonderful quote above, however, tells us all we need to know about the versions of truth out there in the world — yours, mine, and God’s. I’m an atheist, but I sure hope there’s a heaven, that David’s in it, and that all the unknown truths are waiting up there for him to enjoy.
RIP pal, from all of us who loved, read, and respected your work.