Reflecting on William Wordsworth and David Carr

I read this poem all throughout middle school.

I WANDERED lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine

And twinkle on the milky way,

They stretched in never-ending line

Along the margin of a bay:

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they

Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:

A poet could not but be gay,

In such a jocund company:

I gazed–and gazed–but little thought

What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood,

They flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude;

And then my heart with pleasure fills,

And dances with the daffodils.

1804.

Those are the words of William Wordsworth. In school we discussed the hyperbole, metaphor, simile, personification and imagery. It was a 7th grade Language Arts teacher’s dream poem.

It has certainly stuck with me over the years. Not because Wordsworth rhymed fills and daffodils, but because of my own interpretation. You see, to me Wordsworth is saying live in the moment- soak up the brilliance of the now so you can reflect on it later.

While watching the 2014 Berkeley commencement speech by David Carr this afternoon I remembered the words of Wordsworth.

Carr said…

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 11.58.03 PMI never applied the poem to journalism before, but Carr was inspirational.

Why is this important to reporting?

1. To get a story, journalists have to live in the present.

Observing the environment around you creates more story ideas than the screen of your phone.

Carr kept saying, “Someone should write a story on that!” He created news as he observed the world. His very first story was based off of something that happened in real life. News happens now- you have to pay attention! Carr never said a story idea came from the screen of his phone… something to think about.

2. Rather than trying to capture the moment as it happens, simple observing it will lead to better experiences and stories.

When Wordsworth wandered lonely as a cloud he didn’t take out his iPhone to snap some Instagrams of the daffodils (If he did, I hope he used the “Valencia” filter). Instead he “gazed and gazed” without thinking about what he was seeing and then reflects on the memory when he is pensive on his couch.

Now, I doubt there will be breaking news in the fields of flowers, but I do think there is something to be said about a journalists constant need to record. As a broadcast major if I see something without my camera recording, I have a mini heart attack. How can I report a story if I do not have footage of it happening?

I don’t think Carr meant we should never document events, I think he meant that sometimes this is not the best option. Always obsessing over whether you have proof of the event can cause you to overlook important details.


While Wordsworth did not have the technology we do today, it is that technology that makes living in the present even more important. Especially as journalists. Getting lost in a another world will take away the impact you have on this one.

As Carr said, “This small group before you, ladies and gentlemen, I’m sure will make a big dent in this world. Maybe somebody should write a story about that.”

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