Official blog of Clark's Blogging for Journalists class, Mass Communication department

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

On the future of journalism, by a master

"The ability to do journalism, to reach audiences, has never been better. I like your odds. I do,” David Carr said, while giving the 2014 commencement address at the University of California, Berkeley, Graduate School of Journalism. Photo by Kevin Hume, New York Times
David Carr, media columnist for the New York Times, died last week...a huge loss.
Here's a posthumous column written about him and his advice to students, plus his syllabus at Boston University, where he was a guest professor.
Read this today.
The Media Equation
Click on his syllabus.
Press Play syllabus
Comment below, today:
1. What about his advice  resonates with you?
2. What is your reaction to his course syllabus? How is it different from what you're used to?


  1. 1. I really liked how he encouraged his students to be themselves. He valued where they came from and asked them to channel their previous experiences. He said that he cared less about the resume and more about the person.
    2. I was impressed with the amount of reading he required and how he published all the articles on Press Play. He really valued reading and encouraged his students to read often and read well.

  2. 1. An interviewed student said Carr was always telling them to, "try harder." He wasn't amused with colorful resumes, he liked hard workers. I'm not saying that you shouldn't have a great resume when looking for a job, but I think Carr's advice to work harder and make what you actually do (not just what you write down that you do) your best.

    2. His course seems like it would be such a fun and interesting one to be a part of. Although it does seem like A LOT of work. I noticed that his syllabus isn't your standard copy & pasted string of paragraphs that you see on the first day of most college courses. It seemed to be written from the heart. You can tell he actually cares about what the students are getting out the course and he holds them to high standards when it comes to how they conduct themselves.

  3. “Who you are and what you have been through should give you a prism on life that belongs to you only. We will talk about the uses and abuses of a writer’s voice, how to express yourself in copy without using the ‘I’ word and why ending stories with a quote from someone else is often the coward’s way out.” This resonates with me because it is great advice, I have experiences that no one else has, and that is really the only thing that separates me from other people. This is true in all people but it is more about how you channel those experiences that will separate your writing from others.

    His syllabus is more personal and straight forward. It is clear he is talking to adults and not kids, and he is telling the truth. This is different from syllabus' I am used to because the ones I am used to are clear cut instructions. Dont text in class, only 3 absences or else. But Carr says if you dont show up or if you dont read it will be at your own peril, if you ignore him in class he will do the same to you. He seems like a great professor and the kind of guy that will teach you a whole lot if you are willing to try hard and learn

  4. 1. I would definitely sign up to take his course, it seems like a breath of fresh air as opposed to some college courses that the professor doesn't seem to care much about. I like how he encouraged students to be unique, and wasn't all about fitting the standard of journalists everywhere. He said something like there is one thing that you have that no one else has and you should capitalize on that. I love that, and will try more to apply it to my work.
    2. I absolutely loved his syllabus, and actually read it! That is the first difference from most syllabi I receive, it was truly written by him and in a conversational way that made me want to read it all. I liked how he introduced himself and was completely straight forward with the students on things like how he feels when people text or email during his class. The syllabus definitely made me want to take the class, and I am saddened by the loss of what seems like such a brilliant trailblazer of a journalist and professor.

  5. 1. What stuck with me was Carr's willingness to help and grow the next generation of journalists, you could tell that even through just his syllabus that he cared about how his students did and truly wanted them to learn and excel in his class.
    2. His course syllabus seemed like one of the most daunting, fun, engaging courses I've ever read. The course-load sounded very rigorous, and I have no idea how I would be able to find time for anything other than his course, but I feel like fully finishing his course would leave me not only feeling accomplished but also like I had really learned something worthwhile through the experience.

  6. One of my favorite things he makes a point on is team work. He said, "While writing, shooting, and editing are often solitary activities, great work emerges in the spaces between people.” I think this is very true in all different types of work. You can get your best ideas just being able to ping ideas of of another person. One of my other favorites was “how to quit sounding like everyone else and begin sounding like ... yourself.” “Who you are and what you have been through should give you a prism on life that belongs to you only." Everyone is different which should make every persons writing different also. Everyone has there own little voice inside their head and it shouldn't sound like anyone else, and neither should their writing.

    I thought his course syllabus was really interesting. Most of our syllabus' are just telling us what we are going to learn in the class and when assignment will be due. His syllabus is more of I want you to be inspired and do great things with that inspiration. This is a class that you will have to use your imagination not only to better yourself but your peers. He wants to see what he knows is inside all of his students, and he wants them to leave there with that end result in their hands.

  7. 1. His advice to his students was different than your typical academic teacher. He was someone who cared more about the person and their personality and not what was written on a piece of paper. He encouraged his students to be themselves and talk about their real life experiences, which I think is a great way to help students gain confidence in themselves and their work.

    2. I liked the way his syllabus was set up. It made it more appealing to look at. He requites a lot of work, but it all seems fun and interesting. I also thought it was cool he required outside readings that were not something from a textbook store. You can tell he really cared about the students retaining what they learn and taking something from his course.

  8. 1.) I think his advice is incredibly encouraging, I felt like I had him for a professor for a short minute as I read his syllabus and also the words in the first article. He is all about working hard, and more importantly, caring. He isn't about the shining star of the class who has the bloated resume and the perfect exterior, but he sees the greatness in the student who genuinely cares about the profession and about their work. I think this just says so much about his character and I am sure he changed the lives of all of his students. I think I have a few professors here at UCO who I could compare to him. Professors who look deeper than the grades in their books but who know how much you really care, and they stop at nothing to make sure you accomplish your goals.

    2.) I thought his course syllabus was written with a lot of personality and it was almost like a letter written to each individual student rather than the boring, flat, official syllabi we are used to at a university. He just really cares and his whole heart is in helping students grow. If you care, you are willing to put in the work, and you will give your everything to the job he is going to do all that he can to make sure you grow, not just as a journalist but as a person. Which is a focus I think a lot more journalists should strive to obtain and journalism today would be a million times better.

  9. 1. I loved how he wanted everyone to have their own unique voice. He didn't try to put them in a mold that has become so cookie cutter with our writing these days. He was so passionate about what he was teaching which is highly contagious. I would have loved to be in his class.
    2. He was so blunt in his syllabus. He said exactly how he felt about everything you could think of. I loved the part where he said if you texted in class he would ignore you as you are ignoring him. More teachers should do this I think.

  10. I like that David Carr wanted students to speak up, instead of raising their hands. He also said that students that use their electronic advise in class will be ignored, just like they ignored the professor. But what I resonate the most is that he grades students on how much effort they put in their work, and also, how much they help other classmates. It's very comforting knowing that he wants people to get involved, and help others succeed as well. Not much as a competition, but a supporting environment.

    His syllabus requires a lot of reading even before classes start. Got me to think if I really should read more often that I do. The books he recommended are about slavery, moral debts, racism and so on. Carr wants students to learn about the world, and then come up with their own ideas. He encourages students to have be unique and creative.

  11. The advice that I found to be the most informative was that he always advised his students to be themselves. He did not want them to be cliché. He wanted his students to figure out who they were (throughout their life story) and elaborate that by completely being yourself. That is so important to me because I believe that in todays society a lot of us work like robots. Although, we are not robots, there are pathologies and certain routines we go through thinking this is "the way." David Carr not only wanted to make his students own themselves, but own their work and what they stand for.

    As for his Press Play Syllabus, again it is all about the student. He makes the course very subjective. It isn't something that just applies to everyone, however it does, each and every person will come out with something different. It states, "There will be a number of smaller assignments, but the goal is that you will leave here with a single piece of work that reflects your capabilities as a maker of media." He wants talking, experimenting, research, collectable date and everyone to chim in. He wants everyones opinions, deleting narrow-minded decisions. He is simply reminding his students that all of their opinions matter because they do.

    Carr's syllabus was very much so different from any other syllabus I've ever been given because in his syllabus you can tell that he has created this and published this just how he says he wants his students to create something they are happy with and publish/share with the world. He is his example of what he lives/preaches by. He is a professor who stands by his word and expects his students to do the same once they've discovered their abilities.

  12. David Carr is a true teacher. He doesn't put blinders on his students and runs them down a straight line. He encourages communication and diversity by working together and challenging each other. “Who you are and what you have been through should give you a prism on life that belongs to you only." No two people are the same. And this speaks to me since I'm a general studies major. I don't really pursue a special degree, but I come from a very dynamic background. According to David that's a strength, to experience different and many things. The Press Play syllabus first impression, super long. But much more effective than what I have ever received. I see some similarities from Press Play to Twitter for Media and Blogging for Journalism. How we are challenged to read several articles, and report on small assignments, so much more relevant than reading a text book that 3rd edition from 2008. (So much has happened since then). David Carr has developed what should be the new method of effective teaching.

  13. 1. What mainly stuck out to me is in the article it says David Carr cared more about the person and not their resume. I feel like so often now, that is all professionals care about. He believed everyone has something different to bring to the table when it comes to journalism. I think this is what really can make someone stand out from all the others.

    2. I think it is interesting how he chose to approach his class in the syllabus. Instead of giving them a bunch of rules and guidelines, he was more personable. By doing so, it makes the students want to engage in the class and do their school work more. Most importantly, encourages them to be their self and successful in life. He described what he liked, disliked and informed them of what to expect. His syllabus was straight to the point and relatable. I would have loved to take one of his classes.

  14. 1. I liked how he wanted students to be themselves and not worry about how good you are at school. He wanted students to learn in a free way and not under strict guidelines. Not judging people by their grades is fantastic.

    2. His syllabus was created by his words and not as a robot like most syllabus you normally see. He gave you all of his expectations and not the schools. He wants the students to figure out the world for their sake on not his. He was their for them and not just for a job.

  15. 1) The advice David gave that resonated most to me was how much emphasis he put on individuality, and encouragement to help others. He asked people to express their own ideas because it is unique and everyone has different experiences. He said that great work emerges in the spaces between people as they work together. In the end how well you did should not be based on your efforts, but the ability to bring excellence out of the people around you. That is the real challenge.

    2) David’s syllabus was creative and attractive to follow. He put a lot of effort into making it, which demonstrated how much he cared about teaching. I like how he takes such a boring and undesirable piece and transforms into something so unique. You can tell he was truly passionate about what he did.

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  17. 1. I think the advice he gave about how to truly express yourself when writing resonated with me the most, "how to express yourself in copy without using the ‘I’ word and why ending stories with a quote from someone else is often the coward’s way out." I do agree that some people are afraid to really express how they feel and its easier to use someone else's words to express how you feel rather than your own. Often on social media people use song lyrics as their captions to express how they feel rather than actually say whats on their mind. In pieces of writing I'd rather know what the writer thinks on their own but when it comes to social media I'd rather not read someone's long drawn out thoughts.

    2. His syllabus is way more attractive to the eye than most syllabuses I've received. I like the use of pictures throughout it. His syllabus was more of an advice book or guide for writing than a typical syllabus. From his syllabus you are able to get an idea of his personality. Typically I don't get a good idea of the teacher and until the 1st day of class.

  18. This would not be a class I would want to take for my final semester, but if I would have had the opportunity it looked as if it would have been a great adventure. I have copied some of the reading plans to read at a further date when I am out of school. In fact I have a huge list of books I will want to read when school is complete.

    I like the idea of collaboration with fellow students along with the TA and the professor. How much you would have learned in this class. It really is a great teaching model.

    Professor Clark please don't change anything up in your class, it is great the way it is.

  19. The world needs more people like Mr. Carr. He cared about the people as people. He didn't judge them on what school they went to, how much money they had, or who their parents were. He gave everyone a chance and a clean slate. That is rare now days because everyone treats people different based on their prestige.

    I like his syllabus because you get a good look at what made him, him. You could really see his personality. His syllabus wasn't boring like most syllabuses. It was pleasing to the eye and I like how it was more advice oriented.

  20. The Times should have titled this article "The Most Interesting Teacher of All Time". Mr Carr seemed like a whirlwind of inspiration wrapped in one body. I've never met him or actually seen any of his work but I felt that his life and syllabus inspired me. He ad passion and he wanted to see passion come out of other people. It seemed he encouraged his students to be themselves but also take every opportunity to be become better people, better writers, better encouragers and better journalists.
    Many professors don't take time to put themselves in the syllabus. Its always just a list of rules outlined in a few pages. I think it's nice the Carr gives his students a glimpse of who he is. What resonates with me the most is in the syllabus when he encourages them to work in groups because “While writing, shooting, and editing are often solitary activities, great work emerges in the spaces between people.” I love that!

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