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New York Times’ David Carr: ‘If I Don’t Type This, Then I Don’t Really Exist’


Allan MacDonell TakePart.com  

Whether he likes it or not, New York Times media columnist David Carr is about to become much more famous than the vast majority of newspaper writers will ever be. Carr is a primary force in Page One: Inside the New York Times, a documentary coming in June from filmmakers Andrew Rossi and Kate Novack (and distributed by Participant Media, TakePart’s parent company).   Capping a 16-year career that included editing alternative weeklies in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Washington, D.C., with stops at http://www.inside.com/ and the Atlantic Monthly and New York magazine, Carr joined “the paper of record” in 2002. A self-described “ex-crackhead with a voice like Kermit the Frog,” Carr’s presence in Page One: Inside the New York Times is brash, voluble and irascibly protective of the Times as institution and workplace.   Carr documented his life’s textured zigzags in The Night of the Gun (Simon and Schuster, 2008). This memoir of druggy lost times was widely praised for, among other strengths, the reportorial method Carr used to research his blown years. By the latest count, @Carr2n has close to 330,000 Twitter followers.   On a promotional tour for Page One, Carr sat with TakePart and refused to shirk a string of personal questions.   TakePart: What kind of person is good at your job?   David Carr: Where I work there are so many different answers to that. I wrote a book a couple of years ago, and as I went about the book tour, there were two kinds of reporters. One was the kind that you show up, and they make a speech about what you’ve done, about what the movie means, what the book means, what your political announcement means. Then they see what you think of their take.   And then there’s the other kind that just asks a simple, basic, direct question with nothing attached. The good stories always came out of the second version, not the people that make speeches, which is fine. No big deal. Except I happen to be one of the first kind.   I was a speechmaker. I was the kind of person who was always explaining. So, I think a person who is willing to understand that they are adjacent to important things, and they’re next to a lot of important decisions, but does not get confused about their own role in it. We are Boswells. We’re people who go find people more interesting than us, write down what they say, and bring it back and tell other people about it.   There’s shouters where I work; there’s people who hardly say a word ever. And the thing that ties them together is just this insatiable desire to know what cannot be known. Just over and over. Like the one thing you can tell me that will be a cape in front of my eyes is, “You can’t know that.”   I take that as a taunt. I was doing a story about tax incentives in Shreveport, Louisiana. They told me, “We have six movies shooting. Five are open sets. The sixth is Oliver Stone’s, and that’s a closed set.” As soon as they said that, I’m like, I’m going on that set.   I ended up locked in a trailer with Oliver Stone. I had no idea what to talk to him about. But I just somehow had to get there. I went wandering around the set, and I caught somebody’s eye. Before I knew it, there I was.   And he’s like, “So what are we talking about?”   “I don’t even know; I just had to get here.”   To view entire story, please click on the following link:   http://www.takepart.com/article/2011/05/26/new-york-times-david-carr-if-i-dont-type-then-i-dont-really-exist