1. “David Carr, Times Critic and Champion of Media, Dies at 58.” The beloved media critic died after collapsing in the newsroom, his passing greeted with disbelief and tears by colleagues in journalism and beyond.
“A cancer survivor with a throaty croak of a speaking voice and a storklike posture, he was a curmudgeonly personality whose intellectual cockiness and unwillingness to suffer fools found their way into his prose. Mr. Carr became the embodiment of The Times as the surprise scene stealer of a 2011 documentary about the paper, Page One: Inside The New York Times, in which Mr. Carr is seen not only reporting stories but defending the honor of the paper against offhand insults. ’The moviemakers must have felt that they had found their Jimmy Breslin or their Hildy Johnson (the real and fictional archetypes of the crusty, hard-living journalist) when they found him,’ Michael Kinsley wrote in reviewing the film (not terribly favorably) for The Times. ’Mr. Carr is widely admired for his reporting, his intelligence and his Tough Old Coot routine.’ David Michael Carr was born Sept. 8, 1956, in Minneapolis, and grew up just outside the city in Hopkins, Minn. His father, John, owned men’s clothing stores, and his mother, Joan, was a schoolteacher. He graduated from the University of Minnesota, where he majored in psychology and journalism. He worked for an alternative weekly, Twin Cities Reader, and later, Washington City Paper, before moving to New York. He wrote about media for a website, Inside.com, and before joining The Times was a contributing writer for publications including The Atlantic Monthly and New York magazine.”
2. “David Carr, a Journalist at the Center of the Sweet Spot.” A.O. Scott remembers his friend and colleague.
“’What else?’ was the question that would punctuate every conversation with him. What were you working on? What did you think of this or that political event, show-business caper or piece of office gossip? How was your family? What were you thinking? This was sincere, friendly curiosity, the expression of a naturally gregarious temperament. But it was also the operation of a tireless journalistic instinct. David was always hungry for stories. He was a collector of personalities and anecdotes, a shrewd and compassionate judge of character. A warrior for the truth. I can picture his eyebrows shooting upward at that last sentence. A bit much, maybe. But he regarded the newspaper—and all of its digital, televisual and other cognates—as a big, clanking machine for churning out stories. The only rule was that the stories had to be true.”
3. “How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life.” Jon Ronson interviewed Sacco and other real humans who were the virtual targets of public social-media shamings.
“Still, in those early days, the collective fury felt righteous, powerful and effective. It felt as if hierarchies were being dismantled, as if justice were being democratized. As time passed, though, I watched these shame campaigns multiply, to the point that they targeted not just powerful institutions and public figures but really anyone perceived to have done something offensive. I also began to marvel at the disconnect between the severity of the crime and the gleeful savagery of the punishment. It almost felt as if shamings were now happening for their own sake, as if they were following a script. Eventually I started to wonder about the recipients of our shamings, the real humans who were the virtual targets of these campaigns. So for the past two years, I’ve been interviewing individuals like Justine Sacco: everyday people pilloried brutally, most often for posting some poorly considered joke on social media. Whenever possible, I have met them in person, to truly grasp the emotional toll at the other end of our screens. The people I met were mostly unemployed, fired for their transgressions, and they seemed broken somehow—deeply confused and traumatized.”
4. “How the Rise of Jon Stewart Hastened the Demise of Brian Williams.” John Swansburg explains how Williams may be a good fit to replace Sewart. Yes, really.
“His appearances with Stewart might be his best comic work. The two men have an obvious affinity: one is a newsman who grew up admiring Carson, the other a stand-up who turned media criticism into a high comic art. Both are Jersey boys made good. The joke running through the anchor’s appearances on the Daily Show was that Williams was the genuine article, a guy who’d reported on wars from the field, while Stewart was a fake anchor who mocked real journalists from the safety of a Manhattan soundstage. In a 2006 appearance, Williams, fresh from reporting on Hezbollah rocket attacks in Israel, described a harrowing ride on an Israeli Blackhawk helicopter, as katyusha rockets whizzed below. ’They’re firing real bullets over there,’ Williams ribbed Stewart. ’Anytime you want to cross over to the other side, baby, travel with me.’ In light of recent events, the anecdote raises an eyebrow. In context, it played as Williams puffing himself up mainly to put Stewart down. It was funny stuff.”
5. “Suddenly CinemaScope.” Watching so many of 2014’s films all at once, it was hard not to notice. Patrick Wang had sensed it coming for a while, but now it had arrived and was clearly running the show. But why?
“Moving outside the perspective of Sundance programmers to the broader world of digital consumption, it’s not hard to see how 2.35 can be a signal in this world. The staple of the citizen’s daily video diet is likely something close to 1.78. In such an environment, the wider aspect ratio can be a differentiator, signalling: I am a movie and not just another video. If this is in fact a force in what is happening, what’s interesting is that it sounds like a repeated cycle of history. The original film format ratio was about 1.33, which mimics the field of view of human eyesight. Televisions borrowed these proportions. As television grew in popularity, films developed various widescreen formats, including the very wide CinemaScope format, to distinguish themselves from the home television experience. Similarly, to distinguish themselves from the ubiquitous 1.78 of cyberspace, films may now be sending out this 2.35 signal. A significant difference to note in the two historical cycles is that the former involved actual expansions in the width of screen space and picture exhibited. The latter, in the world of personal digital consumption, results in less picture area on the screen.”
Video of the Day: David LaChapelle’s video for Hozier’s “Take Me to Church” featuring dancer Sergei Polunin:
Links for the Day: A collection of links to items that we hope will spark discussion. We encourage our readers to submit candidates for consideration to firstname.lastname@example.org and to converse in the comments section.