It was not a good week for journalism. The week began with speculation about the future of NBC Nightly News anchor and managing editor, Brian Williams. On Tuesday he was suspended for six months. On Wednesday evening, CBS 60 Minutes correspondent Bob Simon was killed in a car crash in Manhattan. A journalist who had covered wars for the entirety of his career lost his life close to home. On Thursday evening, after moderating a panel on the documentary ‘Citizen Four’ at the New School, David Carr, The New York Times journalist collapsed on the newsroom floor.
Over the past week, our conversation here has covered topics of authenticity, engagement, hope and loving what you do at work. In reading about Mr. Carr’s career, it occurred to me that his words this week were incredibly relevant to our dialog.
On Sunday, prior to the NBC announcement, Mr. Carr analyzed Mr. Williams’ and NBC’s dilemma in his column for The New York Times:
“I don’t know if Mr. Williams will lose his job. I don’t think he should — his transgressions were not a fundamental part of his primary responsibilities.
We want our anchors to be both good at reading the news and also pretending to be in the middle of it. That’s why, when the forces of man or Mother Nature whip up chaos, both broadcast and cable news outlets are compelled to ship the whole heaving apparatus to far-flung parts of the globe, with an anchor as the flag bearer.
We want our anchors to be everywhere, to be impossibly famous, globe-trotting, hilarious, down-to-earth, and above all, trustworthy. It’s a job description that no one can match.”
I don’t think there is a better description of conflicting expectations in the workplace.
After Mr. Carr’s death, social media lit up in response to the loss of a mentor and talented writer. City Paper and it’s staff collected stories from his colleagues and young journalists recounting their experiences….take a minute to read these familiar names relating their encounters…and remember we learn from the wisdom of others.
Dean Baquet, The New York Times Executive Editor described David Carr as “the finest media reporter of his generation.”
David Carr was authentic, engaged in his work, hopeful and loved what he did.
In his words, quoted in his obituary, “I now inhabit a life I don’t deserve,” Mr. Carr wrote at the conclusion of “The Night of the Gun,” “but we all walk this earth feeling we are frauds. The trick is to be grateful and hope the caper doesn’t end any time soon.”