David Carr, the Media’s Own Greatest Critic, Talks Public Relations

He had surprisingly insightful thoughts on PR, too.


You’ve probably seen this video floating around the Internet at some point today, but it’s worth watching again (and again): there’s no better reminder of why everyone is so upset at the passing of New York Times media critic David Carr.

But Carr didn’t just do media: he also had some thoughts on PR.

In 2012, our own Nancy Lazarus covered an Internet Week event with Carr, and he was surprisingly positive. Here’s his take on present-day media relations:

“Now it’s a better age between journalists and PR. There’s an absence of friction, and PR is part of the data stream.”

Carr also had some very sharp thoughts on social media that still resonate today:

“You shouldn’t break stories on Twitter unless there’s no other way, since it only serves the reporter. As for traffic, one should not mistake Twitter heat for real heat.”

On the Times editorial practices (particularly relevant in light of the video above):

“The Times brand is built on efficacy, authority, and seriousness. It can be paralyzing considering its effect on the lives of people we write about. Almost no blog post here goes up without another set of eyes reviewing it.”

Here are some remembrances of Carr from our PR colleagues: first, a shot from Kelly Krause, head publicist for South by Southwest:

…and here’s Carr with Peter Himler of Flatiron Communications and Paul Young, head of strategic partnerships at Instagram:

You’d think a man who so brutally cut down Shane Smith of VICE would not be as friendly with the PR discipline…but Carr clearly understood the relationship between the two parties.

Thankfully, he overcame his problems with addiction and went on to write some of the Times’ best journalism in recent years; his final column on Brian Williams and Jon Stewart was one of his best. Here is a collection of his quotes and here is an archive of his work for the NYT.

As venture capitalist Hunter Walk puts it:

We couldn’t agree more.