There’s something forthright and sad about David Carr’s most recent column in the New York Times, in which, after a glittering farewell soiree for The Observer‘s former EIC Peter Kaplan–“It was difficult to miss the aura of elegy that hung over the goodbye party,” he writes–Carr finds himself staring down the doorman at the Hotel on Rivington, finessing his way into an Internet Week party. Carr, ever the publishing optimist, had skipped the Kaplan afterparty at Elaine’s and the accompanying good-old-days grumbling, opting instead for “another part of New York,” where “the allure of this city and this industry was just as shiny and magical as it has ever been.” For “industry” here, read: “a party celebrating Internet Week hosted by CollegeHumor and Guest of a Guest, a Manhattan social calendar site.” There, amongst the pumping techno and bright young things hopping in and out of the roof deck hot tub, Carr promptly acts very old media indeed:
“I like that notebook and some of the things that pop out of it,” Carr goes on to write. As it happens, the most substantial thing to pop out of that notebook lately–Night of the Gun, his visceral, closely observed, and generally self-eviscerating memoir, in which Carr reconstructs his own junkie past by dispassionately reporting on it–came out in paperback last week. And it’s that book, as much as Carr’s weekly, generally non-alarmist dispatches from an increasingly alarming media landscape, that paradoxically hints at what Carr is too decent or optimistic to say: that reporters with his skill-set and chops aren’t exactly the predominate media model these days.
“Beyond the reach of mainstream authority and tradition, an entire cadre of the next generation of media titans was taking their ease,” Carr writes, back at the Internet Week party. “No, they probably won’t publish ‘Frank Sinatra Has a Cold’ — CollegeHumor relishes videos clips of a good Tasering, while Guest of a Guest has a bit about the party introducing the Aston Martin DBS Volante — but the authors of the city’s next media epoch, this time rendered in pixels, are already nascent.” The question, I guess, is what they’ll become.