New York Times media critic David Carr has struck a populist nerve with his latest column. In his Monday “Media Equation” piece, Carr admonished Gannett, the massive print and broadcast media chain, for an editorial from its own USA Today about the Occupy Wall Street protests. In the editorial, the newspaper decried the Wall Street bonus system, listing it as one of the good reasons for the weeks-long protests.
Carr found this a bit hypocritical. “If you were looking for bonus excess despite miserable operations, the best recent example I can think of is Gannett, which owns USA Today,” he wrote. Thousands of readers were incensed by the column — in a good way. Some 235 people commented on it, many reacting with the same disgust Carr expressed. “I have always been mystified by the rarified ranks of the uber-execs who command these kinds of salaries in any industry. It seems to be some kind of club like Skull & Bones that once you are admitted, you are set for life,” Richard Williamson of Dallas wrote. “it’s disgusting watching these failures award themselves millions for destroying tens of thousands of lives,” Linda from Brooklyn wrote. “but it does speak to the overwhelming corruption of american corporate ‘governance.’” Other media critics, like the Guardian’s Roy Greenslade, chimed in as well: The ever-readable New York Times media commentator David Carr has contrasted what a newspaper says with what its publisher does.”
Carr, who has turned into a media star himself over the past couple of years, is no stranger to going after corporate excess or malpractice – whether he’s exposing the “bankrupt culture’ at Tribune or a history of ethical lapses at News Corp. properties. The problem at Gannett, he argued, is that while the company’s stock price continues to tank and workers lose their jobs, recently departed CEO Craig A. Dubow netted $37 million upon announcing his resignation. And that’s on top of the sky-high salary he has been earning. Yet if most agreed with Carr wholeheartedly, other readers seemed to think he picked the wrong target – keep the focus on Wall Street! Still others felt this was nothing revelatory, that this is rather obvious. And, of course, some had proposals for new targets to occupy. Occupy Wall Street! Occupy Newsrooms! Occupy Everything