New York Times media reporter David Carr started working on the death-of-Newsweek-print-edition story on Wednesday, but got beat by Newsweek, which announced the news early Thursday. Carr told a Washington and Lee Journalism Ethics Institute audience on Friday how that happened.
The Newsweek part of the speech starts at 14:48 in the video:
The night before last [Wednesday] I heard from a source that Newsweek was going to cease publishing in print, and that’s kind of a big story in Manhattan media. And so I did the thing where I didn’t want to put out the phone calls too wide, right? I did the thing where — you know, sometimes when you really want to make a story happen, you make as much noise as you can, you want them to hear you coming through the brush — I’m coming for you! But this I was just like creepy crawling around, a little email there, a little phone call there.
David Carr at Washington and Lee University
Somewhere in there I hit a fricking tripwire, and even though we stood at 10 o’clock at night and said, we know this is going to happen, but we have not spoken to anybody that has direct knowledge, which is sort of our standard. We’d just been through this with the Times-Picayune and a big story a couple months before, and we decided rather than gamble and try and make phone calls, or go to the people [involved] we’d sit still.
Our targets in this case — Barry Diller, Tina Brown, Newsweek, Daily Beast — heard me or somebody like me creepy crawling around and in the dead of night they pushed the button on the press release. And that made me unhappy. I just want to say that. I just was profoundly unhappy about that. …
When I woke up at 6:30 [Thursday morning], and you know, you open up your email and — whoosh! — you just get your nose broken right away. It’s like, wow!
What did I do? I opened up a WordPress file, and immediately began typing. I had some string from the night before, hammered in what I had. It wasn’t as spun as what they had, and everybody on the web — because I had a little bit of early [unintelligible] — all pointed at me. So even though we didn’t get the story [first] we were able to catch up.
* David Carr addresses Washington and Lee Journalism Ethics Institute (wlu.edu)