Making news unfake

David Carr, photo Chester Higgins Jr., New York Times website.

When 911 happened, he was working at a magazine in New York. He called it a party magazine. Not particularly substantial. And he was a recognized media critic covering the arts. Suddenly, one morning in September, long-time newspaper reporter David Carr got a call from his editor just after 9 o’clock. The editor told him what had just happened at the World Trade Center and he was assigned to the story.

“Some of the staff are going uptown, some downtown,” the editor told him. “Carr, you go cover the firemen.”

The right to know

The Toronto mayor chased the Star reporter away from his backyard wall last week.The subject of Rob Ford’s reaction to reporter Daniel Dale’s investigation of land adjacent to the Toronto mayor’s property has come up in conversation a lot the past week. Some acquaintances of mine have described Dale’s poking around Ford’s backyard wall as provocative. Others find the Toronto mayor’s behaviour embarrassing. But I was taken aback by one friend’s criticism of Dale’s newspaper.

“That’s the ‘socialist’ Toronto Star for you,” he said.

Who is on the dark side?

Press releases by the thousands flow daily between public relations people and journalists who use them as research for news stories.

I recently took a call from a Humber College student. She asked if I was a working journalist. When I informed her that I both wrote and taught, she asked if I could help her with an essay she was researching. In her studies, one of her instructors had directed her to answer this question:

“Can public relations people get along with journalists? And conversely, can journalists get along with PR people?”

“It depends,” I told her on the phone.