David Carr Mattered To New Media, Columnist Says: Why That’s Not A Compliment

David Carr, the American author, columnist, and journalist, who is credited with bringing Lena Dunham of HBO’s Girls into legitimacy, recently died of lung cancer and heart disease.

It is not my intention to disparage him or to offer a detailed analysis of his work, though if given time, one could reach a fair and critical analysis, I’m sure.

No one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes and could probably do their jobs a bit better.

No, this isn’t a takedown of Carr, but instead of the “new media” label that he represents. What brought this about was a recent op-ed from Susan Kemp for Huffington Post entitled, “Why David Carr Mattered To New Media Journalism.”

In it, Kemp states the following.

“When Facebook had a silly little place to name your heroes a couple years back, I listed him there alongside Ira Glass and David Foster Wallace. Why? Because, for me, he represented the idea that writing could still be informed and provocative — even about things like the media, especially about things like the media. He represented to me that quality still matters.

“I had a professor in college that liked to say: ‘Writing is hard because everyone thinks they can do it.’ His implicit challenge was to overcome low expectations and pen something worth saying, even as ‘journalism’ gets more and more democratized.”

Kemp also exults Carr with embracing technologies like Twitter to dispense news and says of the social media platform that some of the “best cultural responses to everything from Girls to Benghazi are happening in 140 characters or less — all you have to do is follow the right people. David Carr was one of those people worth following.”

No, I don’t want to knock Kemp’s hero, but I do want to point out that saying Carr or anyone is an influencer of what “new media journalism” has become isn’t complimentary.


Because in the effort to say something “worth saying,” many new media professionals are leaving out one tiny bit of importance — objectivity.

New media — blogs, social media — have infiltrated the world of pure journalism, taking it out back and putting a bullet in its head.

Many new media types have no desire to challenge their perspectives. That’s why you didn’t see the American media embracing Edward Snowden. It would have made their president look bad.

At one time, a president, governor, congressman, etc., would have been held to a high standard by journalists. They would have been asked tough questions. They would have dreaded the sight of a journalist because they would know that they had to be on their game.

New media, however, gives us things like the embarrassing fluff piece interview Vox conducted with President Obama.

It’s a world where you don’t ask tough questions if you agree with the person sitting in front of you.

I don’t know if David Carr was one of those people, but Kemp does him no favors in saying he influenced the path that most journalism has taken.

What do you think, readers? Has new media lost its objectivity? Sound off in our comments section.