It’s impossible to replace David Carr, The New York Times media columnist who died in February. But according to a recent report in Variety, the paper is on the lookout for a new writer and has whittled its search down to Times reporter Jonathan Mahler, NPR’s David Folkenflik and Sarah Ellison, a contributing editor to Vanity Fair. Each of them is a solid choice. But since the Times doesn’t yet appear to have made up its mind, here are 17 suggestions.
The erudite Inc. editor James Ledbetter gave up media criticism in the 1990s when he penned his last “Press Clips” column for the Village Voice. But perhaps it’s been long enough that he’d reconsider returning to the media beat. (He also wrote the Observer‘s first “Off the Record” column in 1990.)
She’s a TV critic at The New Yorker—one of the best in the country—and what is TV if not another form of media?
He is jobless at the moment—or so it seems—having decamped from The New Republic last year. (But perhaps he got all the press criticism out of his system when he took down Howard Kurtz in this fine piece of hatchetry from 2000.)
New York magazine’s Jessica Pressler was the subject of a recent media scandal when, back in January, she was duped by a Stuyvesant High senior who lied about making millions on the stock market. But she’s a great reporter and a keen media writer, and the fact that she was tricked, one hopes, only adds to her level of skepticism about the media business in general.
Michael Kinsley, who could write about his toe and make it interesting and funny, has probably had more jobs than anyone on this list. Now he’s at Vanity Fair, where he writes about politics and the media with the kind of cavalier confidence the best columnists exude.
He’s a fair but ruthless critic of the media at his eponymous blog on the website of the Washington Post, where he likes to refer to himself as “the Erik Wemple Blog.” At the Times he’d have to drop that moniker, but that would be an easy enough change to adjust to. (Also, like David Carr, Erik Wemple edited the Washington City Paper, so, that’s saying something.)
Another candidate from NPR. As the host of On the Media and the author of The Influencing Machine, Brooke Gladstone is an obvious choice for the position. (A two-time Peabody Award winner, she was NPR’s first media reporter.)
If the Times confined its search to Washington City Paper alumni, the paper would do just fine. Shani Hilton, an astute observer of the media, used to work at the Beltway alt-weekly and is now an editor at BuzzFeed. “She is utterly brilliant and has a great sense of how media works and what people want to read,” Ta-Nehisi Coates, another Washington City Paper alum, told Capital New York in a recent profile.
Not that he’d want the job. A Gawker editor who also wrote this paper’s “Off the Record” column—and worked at the City Papers of both Baltimore and Washington—Tom Scocca is one of the fiercest critics of the Times columnists, particularly Thomas Friedman.
A former media critic for the Boston Phoenix, Dan Kennedy continues to write incisively about the print and digital universe at his blog, Media Nation.
“Can a press critic even exist if he doesn’t have the Times to kick around?” Jack Shafer once asked. If hired by the Times, there’s no doubt he’d kick the paper around plenty. (It’s certainly something David Carr wasn’t afraid to do.) He just went to Politico, where he works as a “senior media writer,” but he’s moved around enough in his career to know that one shouldn’t pass up a good opportunity when it comes along. And given that the Times magazine just let him go from the newly rebranded Ethicists column, this could be a nice consolation prize.
The feminist writer Laura Kipnis knows how to rile people up, as she did recently with an incendiary article on sexual paranoia in academia for the Chronicle of Higher Education, which caused students at Northwestern University, where she is a professor of media studies, to protest. Keep it up, Kipnis!
It’s clear that Wesley Morris, who writes about film for Grantland—and won the Pulitzer in 2012 for his reviews in the Boston Globe—can do just about anything. And it’d be wonderful to see his omnivorous mind turned to the media business; we got a taste of that in his recent excellent piece on Trevor Noah.
Joe Hagan’s impressively reported pieces on the media industry for New York magazine—where, for instance, he went very, very deep on the Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr.—make him a good candidate. (Writing short might be a challenge for him, though.)
There’s no way he’s leaving Fusion, where he can revel in the “post-text” universe that nobody else seems to comprehend, but Felix Salmon’s deep knowledge of finance and media coupled with his insouciant tone would make for a refreshing voice on the Times‘ business page.
Why not add one more white dude to this list. He is looking for a new gig, isn’t he?