Monday, September 26, 2011

‘As true as I could make it’

The star of the documentary Page One: Inside the New York Times is the newspaper, or perhaps its gleaming, heavily mortgaged building, which appears in nearly every shot.

But a strong supporting player is David Carr, the newspaper’s unorthodox media columnist.

The film details Carr’s work on a long feature about the culture of sexual harassment and general machismo that new owners of the Chicago Tribune forced on the storied but debt-laden company. Heads rolled in Chicago after the story appeared.

For a longer, more intimate and even more disturbing read, check out The Night of the Gun, Carr’s 2008 memoir of three decades of sex, drugs and more drugs.

Carr’s friend wanted him to go to rehab and he said “Yes, yes, yes” – four times, in fact.

Then, for some reason that even he is not clear on, he went straight.

Always a hard-working journalist, at least when he wasn’t out of his mind, Carr began working on his biggest story – his own life.

Because he couldn’t remember much, “I decided to fact-check my life using the prosaic tools of journalism.”

He interviewed old lovers, friends and enemies, and he searched court documents and medical records.

The result is a book “as true as I could make it.”

Not a bad mission statement for journalists.