Professor David Carr’s rules for students


This fall the New York Times reporter David Carr will kick off his second career as the Boston University College of Communication’s first Andrew R. Lack professor. He posted the syllabus for his class “Press Play” on Medium, where students will also file assigned stories.

But first, some rules:

  • No raising hands: “This isn’t Montessori, I expect people to speak up when they like, but don’t speak over anyone. Respect the opinions of others.”
  • Stay off your phone: “If you text or email during class, I will ignore you as you ignore me. It won’t go well.”
  • Link properly: “This is a web-based course. We will transparently link to all sources. Failure to appropriately cite the work of others is a serious matter. Work done for Press Play may not be submitted for another class, and the reverse is also true. Do not use friends or Wikipedia as sources. All other BU academic standards and the University Code of Conduct will be observed and enforced.”

Six of the assigned readings for the course are by Carr (one is from Poynter). Carr’s bio for the course reads in part:

Your professor is a terrible singer and a decent dancer. He is a movie crier but stone-faced in real life. He never laughs even when he is actually amused. He hates suck-ups, people who treat waitresses and cab drivers poorly, and anybody who think diversity is just an academic conceit. He is a big sucker for the hard worker and is rarely dazzled by brilliance. He has little patience for people who pretend to ask questions when all they really want to do is make a speech.

Related: Carr once wrote that “Having seen many journalism programs up close, I can say that most are escalators to nowhere.” (NYT)

We have made it easy to comment on posts, however we require civility and encourage full names to that end (first initial, last name is OK). Please read our guidelines here before commenting.

  • joseph peterson

    I want to take this class!! Maybe put it on EdX?

  • JTFloore

    the no-raising-hands policy SOUNDS good, but it conjures images of press conferences back in the day when a dozen reporters would rise at the same time and shout questions at the president, hoping he would point to one of them an answer. it was total chaos, embarrassing, and a shameful spectacle. surely mr. carr can do much, much better.

  • Aida McAuley

    “This isn’t Montessori”? You would think that if a professor mentions Montessori, he would know something about it. It’s as if he thinks children in Montessori are not the independent, eager, curious and collaborative students that they are. Children in traditional schools are taught to conform to authority and seek permission to speak or use the bathroom, not Montessori kids. Suggestion for the professor: visit a Montessori classroom.

  • Rebecca Theim

    David Carr is amazing, Steven, the best media reporter in the business. I’d love to take his class.

  • KenCarpenter

    Introvertism ≠ Journalism

  • mayerjoy

    That’s a great point. I need a lot of reminders to make sure introverts have room to participate. I guess the professor’s job would be to invite quiet periods and make sure a few folks aren’t dominating. I teach small seminar classes and don’t encourage hand raising either. The groups are small enough that I can keep an eye on who looks like they want to talk, and I often say things like, “let’s hear from someone who hasn’t talked yet.”

  • geekgrrl57

    no raising hands? so people just talk over each other, and lots of luck if you’re shy. sounds like a plan.

  • Steven Barrie

    He sounds arrogant and boring. So glad I’m past my college days.

  • mayerjoy

    I love this from his course description: “While writing, shooting, and editing are often solitary activities, great work emerges in the spaces between people.”