The inimitable David Carr

I guess I’ll begin with a spoiler alert: The Feb. 16 edition of The Daily Tar Heel will feature a bottom quote from the inimitable David Carr.

And as Katie Reilly, The Daily Tar Heel’s managing editor, and I tried to pick out a quote that could succinctly capture Carr’s greatness, we struggled. But as we stumbled through the thousands of lovely words Carr put together for his column and many other places, something struck me.

This man didn’t just regularly outline a dynamic framework for the future of journalism, he also shed light on how to be a good leader. A good editor.

Take The New York Times’ latest story on Carr’s syllabus:

“Your professor is fair, fundamentally friendly, a little odd, but not very mysterious. If you want to know where you stand, just ask.”

Or this from his autobiography The Night of the Gun:

“No one is going to give a damn about your résumé; they want to see what you have made with your own little fingers.”

Like my classmate Tess Boyle, I didn’t religiously follow Carr. I followed him on Twitter and I usually only read those columns that went viral. I read those recommended to me by respected editors. I glanced at those he tweeted that caught my eye.

But after days spent reading some of Carr’s best words of wisdom, I know that was a grave mistake. Strong newsroom leadership begins with a firm understanding of the changing media landscape, and that’s an idea that Carr not only understood but repeated in his columns.

UNC’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication prepares its students for the changing world of journalism. We no longer focus on print news — instead, we’ve set our sights on conquering the digital media divide.

But that goal is one I’m not quite sure I even want to achieve. I guess that’s why the words that finally made me truly appreciate Carr’s insights were those of his love for print product:

“The hierarchy of the newspaper — when somebody takes six of those stories and puts them on the front, illustrates them, plays them over section fronts — that architecture for me in a digital age is important. I view it as a daily magazine, a prism on what took place yesterday, and I miss it. We live in an age where there is a firehose of information and there is no hierarchy of what is important and what is not.”

Man. The David Carr.


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