Members of the journalism community were shocked on Thursday by the sudden loss of David Carr, 58, a renowned New York Times media columnist who collapsed suddenly in the newsroom around 9 pm. He was pronounced dead at a hospital later that night.
In a letter to staff, the Times’ executive editor Dean Baquet described Carr as “the finest media reporter of his generation, a remarkable and funny man who was one of the leaders of the newsroom.” Baquet continued:
[Carr] was our biggest champion, and his unending passion for journalism and for truth will be missed by his family at the Times, by his readers around the world, and by people who love journalism.
To remember Carr, the Times and other news outlets posted obituaries celebrating his frank discussion of his struggles with addiction, his keen media criticism and his star turn in Page One, where he sharply told off the guys behind VICE.
And journalists resurfaced Carr’s Reddit Ask Me Anything from two years ago, where he offered pithy tips (like “typing,” as a cure for writer’s block), thoughtful responses to questions about the Times and his personal life, and doled out praise for journalists he championed.
Tributes to Carr also emerged organically on social media platforms, where journalists (and others) shared memories, and lessons they learned from him. In a Medium post published overnight, Circa editor-in-chief Anthony De Rosa recalled spending time with the man who sparked his career in news:
He graciously hosted me at his cabin in the Adirondacks and one of my favorite memories of him was sitting around the campfire, staring up at the stars, and listening to music. We even managed to hit a drive-in movie, which ran a oddly paired double feature of Ted and Brave.
De Rosa described going skeet shooting with his friend, talking about baking and family. He went on:
A common refrain you’ll hear in the stories people will tell about David is that he made you feel comfortable. Sure, he was intimidating at first and intense. He could turn a phrase that often took a second to decipher. But once you settled in, you were under his spell.
Fusion's Alexis Madrigal also posted an ode to Carr, where he described what it was like to be around him:
I could never sit still when I talked to him. I’d end up pacing, trying to focus my entire mind on keeping up with what he was saying. It was always wise. He never hung me out to dry, even though he always was able to get me talking. Who could say no to David Carr?
The David Carr Reality Distortion Field was a powerful thing — and for reasons I can’t entirely fathom, he used his magic for good, drawing the best from people with his magic. He could have made me feel anything and he chose to make me feel good.
Carr’s warmth and wit are evident from the stories people tell about him. We’ve collected some anecdotes from friends and admirers of Carr below:
Danielle Wiener-Bronner is a news reporter.