Content is King – David Carr in conversation with Richard Gizbert

By Charlotte Eyre

Original and innovative content will remain the keystone of the news industry as the media machine progresses, David Carr said in a discussion with Richard Gizbert  on Monday. 

New York Times media industry columnist David Carr highlighted the problem of making journalism count in an increasingly digitalised industry when he was at the Frontline Club. 
Talking to Richard Gizbert, who covers the media industry for Al Jazeera, Carr described how “the sky started falling in 2005”, when old-school media outlets were faced with a sharp change in the industry – notably the advent of digital coverage.
Carr, who writes about new technology such as the iPad in his weekly Media Equation column, outlined fears many have in the news industry: that online news outlets are leading to homogeneity. 
“In future, all news sites will start to look the same with their audio content, their video content, their small type, their big type, etc,” he said, going on to warn that “brands such as Reuters and CNN will become nothing more than icons” on the screen. 
The 24 hour news cycle is having a negative effect on depth and breadth of content, Carr argued:
“I’m too busy marketing and pimping,” he said. “What I’m doing is getting smaller and smaller. I worry that I can’t think in long sentences any more.”
However, innovative content will continue to garner attention, said Carr, who pointed out that newspapers can be curators, “as good as a curator as anything else”, of the “whooshing of information” online. 
Hybrid news coverage is another way forward, he said, giving the example of the Texas Tribune, an independent news blog devoted to state government and public policy. 
“When the Texas Tribune started up the local papers freaked out at first but now they are all collaborating,” he said. 
Moving onto profitability, Carr dismissed the idea that investments from money men will support the industry long term. 
“The problem is these guys hate losing money,” he said. “Look at Warren Buffett, he hates papers.”
All in all, the discussion between Carr and Gizbert highlighted how innovative content and finding a niche is what media industry players still need to do to stay alive in this challenging, changing era of news. 
However, Carr’s description of the New York Times finding a ‘ledge’ rather than new ground is a pertinent analogy to remember. Media experts may have some idea about how the media world should move forwards but nobody has, as yet, come up with a definitive solution.