David Carr

“David Carr, Times Critic and Champion of Media, Dies at 58”

Monday will never be the same.

Actually, Sunday. That’s when I kept refreshing the “New York Times” app on my phone, waiting for Carr’s column to appear. There will now be a hole in my life where Carr’s column used to be.

We only spoke on the phone once. I was kind of irritated that I was paying international rates to educate someone who didn’t end up quoting me in his column, but that’s what a reporter does, track down the story, and David Carr was very good at that.

Not that he always got it right. I excoriated him once not long ago. Because Mr. Carr had too great an investment in the way it used to be, it bugs me when people hold on to the past as opposed to jumping ship into the future.

And that’s what Nate Silver and David Pogue did. They left the “New York Times” for greener pastures where they could cast off their restraints and expand their vision. But David Carr stayed. He was one of the last stars at a paper that still doesn’t realize we live in a star economy, even in news.

No, I’m not talking about Brian Williams and the TV nitwits. They’re entertainers, barely different from those on sitcoms. They’re beautiful and play to the masses and they’re rarely real reporters.

David Carr was a real reporter.

And contrary to Mr. Carr’s belief, the real reporters will triumph in the end. The listicle people and the linkbait people will fall by the wayside. We hunger not for the quick hit, but the dense exploration. We want the truth, and David Carr did his best to uncover the truth.

So who was David Carr?

He was the guy who wrote the “Media Equation.” The Monday “New York Times” business columnist who analyzed what was going on in the world of entertainment in a way no one else did. Everybody else is just kissing up to money. If something pays well, if someone is rich, they’re untouchable. But David Carr asked the hard questions.

And I’ll miss him.

That’s what’s wrong with entertainment today, we no longer miss you when you’re gone. You’re a momentary blip on the radar screen, something to observe and forget, except in a trivia contest years down the road. No one has any substance, everybody’s whittling themselves down to the essence. There’s no hook for the Velcro hoop to grab on to.

So I’m sitting at dinner, researching Felice’s initial boyfriend, and then I slide over to the “New York Times” app, it’s inevitable, whenever I open my phone I end up there, I want to know what’s going on.

And I was shocked to find out that David Carr had died. He was only 58. He was feisty. He was fully alive.

But he’d been a drug addict. Could that have corroded his veins and heart?

Who knows, but he collapsed in the newsroom, after hosting a panel discussion about the film “Citizenfour.” He was working to the end.

You remember work, don’t you? The thing that’s so fulfilling the money’s superfluous?

Not the financial gigs the Ivy Leaguers gravitate to. They’re weak, they’re afraid of being broke, they can’t pass up the money.

But when you do something you love, it isn’t work, you don’t want to retire, you just want to keep on doing it.

And what David Carr did was ask the wheres and whys in a world where no one has analytical skills anymore, they can only see the surface.

And that appeals to me.

And I must note that Carr had no pedigree. He came out of local newsweeklies. He came up from the bottom. There was no silver spoon, no family connection, his success was all his. An American story. Whodathunk the “New York Times” could hire someone without the proper CV?

But it did.

And yes, the “Times” is bigger than its staff.

But not really.

Now, more than ever, we want to know who’s reporting the news. We want to know who you are, where you’re coming from. Which is why the star system is so important.

I feel sorry for David that he won’t be around to see how it all plays out, how the news evolves, what happens to the papers. Because he cared, not because of the money but because of the change, the thrill, WHAT IS GOING ON?

Who else turns me on as much?

Maybe Paul Krugman. But he’s got another gig, he’s a prize-winning economist, he teaches at Princeton, reporting was David Carr’s only job.

So think about that, even if you never read Carr’s column, if you have no idea who the man was.

This guy who was neither rich nor a star, made an impact. His absence will be felt.

That’s what you should strive for.

P.S. Carr is most famous for excoriating Vice in the film about the “Times,” “Page One.” But what most don’t know is he ultimately took it all back, said he was wrong, said Vice was great. Who does that? Admit a mistake and publicly acknowledge it? Phonies will accept awards they’re not entitled to, politicians will never say they’re wrong. Facts become irrelevant. Everybody’s so worried about their image. But he who is willing to do a 180, to adapt to the future and reality, wins in the end.

P.P.S. Despite working for the ancient “Times,” Carr was an inveterate tweeter, he embraced social media, he utilized all the new tools, because unless you’re familiar with them your opinion is worthless. He was the antidote to the b.s. Someone with a platform who was willing to get down into the pit with the young ‘uns, to admit we’re living in chaos and that the only way to survive is to jump in and swim!

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