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New York Times David Carr Page One documentary
David Carr in Page OneMagnolia Pictures

New York Times columnist David Carr passes away

The media critic was the scene-stealing star of NYT documentary Page One

David Carr, the celebrated New York Times columnist and star of Page One, a documentary about the newspaper, has pased away after collapsing in his Manhattan office on Thursday. He was 58. 

Carr fought off drug addiction to become one of the most loved Times critics of his generation, quickly rising from his initial 2002 post as a business reporter covering the magazine industry. He also became the unexpected star of Page One, a behind-the-scenes look at the workings of the paper, thanks in no small part to a legendarily spiky encounter between Carr and the founders of Vice. 

The Times confirmed his death online after the paper’s executive editor Dean Baquet issued an internal memo to staff.

"I am sorry to have to tell you that our wonderful, esteemed colleague David Carr died suddenly tonight after collapsing in the newsroom," Baquet said. "A group of us were with his wife, Jill, and one of his daughters, at the hospital. He was the finest media reporter of his generation, a remarkable and funny man who was one of the leaders of our newsroom."

In a statement, Times publisher and chairman Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr called Carr "one of the most gifted journalists who has ever worked at the New York Times". The Minnesota-born writer was a powerful champion for journalism, advocating for its necessity even as naysayers predicted the post-internet death of the industry. 

"Right now, being a reporter is a golden age," he wrote in a Reddit AMA. "There may be a lack of business models to back it up, but having AKTOCA on – All Known Thought One Click Away – on my desktop, tablet or phone makes it immensely deeper, richer exercise than it used to be."

RIP, David Carr. We've rounded up some of our favourite columns from the irreplaceable columnist below.

ON HIS LIFE AS AN ADDICT

"Where does a junkie’s time go? Mostly in 15-minute increments, like a bug-eyed Tarzan, swinging from hit to hit. For months on end in 1988, I sat inside a house in north Minneapolis, doing coke and listening to Tracy Chapman’s 'Fast Car' and finding my own pathetic resonance in the lyrics. 'Any place is better,' she sang. 'Starting from zero, got nothing to lose.'" Me and My Girls

ON BILL COSBY AND THE MIGHT OF SOCIAL MEDIA

"For decades, entertainers have been able to maintain custody of their image, regardless of their conduct. Many had entire crews of dust busters who came behind them and cleaned up their messes.

Those days are history. It doesn’t really matter now what the courts or the press do or decide. When enough evidence and pushback rears into view, a new apparatus takes over, one that is viral, relentless and not going to forgive or forget." Calling Out Bill Cosby's Media Enablers, Including Myself

ON CHARLIE HEBDO AND FREE SPEECH

"The message is clear and powerful: Dictators and rogue states are free to control what is seen by people who labor under their rule, but the rest of us have no interest in living like that, where others control the movies in theaters or the selections on newsstands. We may or may not all be Charlie Hebdo, but we certainly want to be free to read the paper if we wish.

It is a principle we have been fighting for since the time of Rousseau and Voltaire, one that is deeply embedded in civil society. And in a modern, web-enabled world, the effort to limit speech will ultimately be fruitless. The fecklessness of those attempts was underlined during the Edward Snowden leaks, when British security forces in the offices of The Guardian oversaw the destruction of hard drives with power tools. Free expression does not live in a single hard drive, film or newspaper; it is widely distributed and reflexively defended as a fundamental right." Flocking to Buy Charlie Hebdo, Citizens Signal Their Support of Free Speech

ON JOURNALISM AND TRUTH

"The notion of journalist as political and ideological eunuch seems silly, even to some who call themselves journalists. 'Truth is not the hole in the middle of the doughnut, it is on the doughnut somewhere,' a veteran reporter whom I worked with at an alternative weekly in Minneapolis once told me. What he meant was that articles that strive only to be in the middle — moving from one hand to the other in an effort to be nicely balanced — end up going nowhere. I was just out of journalism school, brimming with freshly taught tenets of fairness and objectivity, and already those values were in question." Journalism, Even When It's Tilted

ON INTERNS

"Unfortunately, creating meaningful internships and funding them seems like a low priority for an industry that is in a knife fight to survive. But if magazines are going to be anything other than gossamer artifacts of declining interest, the people who run them might want to rethink how they employ their interns. Bringing on young people from all kinds of backgrounds is less a moral nicety than a business imperative." Overlook the Value of Interns at Great Peril