Early this morning, at about 5AM, we were browsing through today's edition of the New York Times when we ran across David Carr's media column. Something about it struck us viscerally, so much so that we were unable to process it at the time and write anything about it.
If you haven't already read Carr's piece, and we highly suggest that you do, here's the gist of it: One night last week, Carr went out to two parties in the city. One was the New York Observer's farewell to longtime editor Peter Kaplan, the other was an Internet Week-themed event hosted by Guest of a Guest and College Humor. What Carr reported on in his story were basically his thoughts and feelings as he experienced them stepping into these two seemingly diametrically opposed parts of the modern media world on the same night.
The two parties and the people who inhabited them could not have been more different existing within the same ecosystem. The Observer party for Kaplan was held at a swanky Fifth Avenue locale in Midtown, the Century Club, that's long been a favorite haunt of big name New York City writers and journalists. The other party, the Guest of a Guest/College Humor party, was held on the rooftop of a chic hotel, the Hotel on Rivington, on the Lower East Side.
At the Observer party, Carr made note of the "aura of elegy" that seemed to be hanging in the room over the course of the night. At the Guest of a Guest/College Humor party, Carr noted that there was "no elegy on the roof deck of the hotel, only thumping techno, a hot tub and hordes of young people staring at the lights of Midtown in the distance."
Again, two opposite worlds existing within the same ecosystem feeding off the same food sources, one which appears to be dying slowly with each passing day, the other growing and thriving rather vibrantly.
We highlight David Carr's column today not for any reason other than it struck us as a simple but poignant portrait of the state of media today. We felt sort of moved by it, and we can easily see it being something that will be read in the future as a sort of stick in the historical water showing exactly where the tide of the media world was at this moment in time. It was, we think, an incredibly accurate and somewhat moving snapshot.
With all of that said, we have to add that reading Carr's piece made us feel a bit sad. As we write this, we're surrounded by remnants of the old media world. Strewn all about the floor around us are copies of the New York Times, New York Post, Wall Street Journal, and New York Daily News, not to mention the latest copies of Esquire, Rolling Stone, and the New Yorker, as well as a couple of recently purchased books. We love all of these things, we love the way they feel to the touch and the way we feel inside when we touch them, and each day we try to wrap our brains around life without them, but we just can't seem to do it. On the flip side, we're completely ingrained into the tapestry of the internet, the very beast most often credited for the ongoing decimation of the old media world, so we obviously have a huge stake in the survival of the new media world as well.
In short, we're torn over all of this. We wish we were smart enough to come up with a solution that would allow both worlds to coexist and thrive, but we just can't seem to do it, nor does anyone else seem to have a viable answer at this point. We also realize that things die and that these things dying is hard to accept and is often the cause of tremendous grief, even though the death of these things usually means that some other things will be granted lives. Regardless of how hard it is to accept the possible outcomes, it will certainly be interesting to see how all of this plays out in the future.
The one thing we are sure of is this—-That David Carr, though we don't always agree with him, is one of the best around at chronicling what is taking place right now within the modern media ecosystem.
In One City, Two Soirees Ages Apart [New York Times]