Sun Valley: David Carr’s advice for reporters

The Bald Mountain resort in Sun Valley offers moguls for advanced skiers all winter long. Media reporters show up every July for the other kind of mogul, who lands among the picturesque Idaho mountains on a private jet and has a name like “Rupert Murdoch” or “Barry Diller.”

Reporters are supposed to be part of the scenery — not part of the conference itself.* They must stand around and hope that one of the more than 200 invitees decides to speak to them, and hopefully dispense a few nuggets of news. Fortunately, this week’s weather is supposed to be sunny, dry and warm during the day, and comfortably chilly at night.

For a Sun Valley freshman like this Reuters reporter, it sounds scary terrifying, despite the clement weather forecast. I asked New York Times media columnist David Carr, who covered the conference in 2007, for some advice. Here are some excerpts from our phone conversation;

Why did you go to the Sun Valley conference?

I was sent because (NYT deals columnist) Andrew Ross Sorkin was getting married. I was actually on vacation at the time, (but) Andrew is somebody at the paper who, whatever he asks for, we have to do. I was actually happy to step into the breach.

What kind of reporting do you do?

You’re arguing over real table scraps and taking deep meaning from people sitting physically
adjacent to each other by the duck pond, but you can’t hear what they say… I got a big get. I saw Rupert Murdoch in a parking lot walking and talking to somebody. I can’t remember who he was talking to, but that constitutes a huge get in the context of Sun Valley. (Was it CNN’s Anderson Cooper? We don’t know.)

Newspapers, more dead than read

h-bomb.jpgMonday brings a fresh wave of despair to the newspaper world as sagacious authors in various media outlets let us know that the economy and the neglect of good citizens are threatening the survival of print journalism.

First up is media columnist David Carr in the New York Times, who wrote on Monday about Sam Zell, Brian Tierney and OhSang Kwon, all of whom bought into papers and have found out that the old devils aren’t what they used to be:

The industry may not be touching bottom any time soon. Last year, overall newspaper revenues dropped by about 7 percent, pushed along primarily by the secular change of readers and advertisers fleeing to the Web. And publishing, along with many other kinds of businesses, is now staring at a full-bore recession, led by the credit crisis that is fanning out across the economy.