The New York Times said tonight that its veteran media columnist David Carr died at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital after collapsing at the paper’s office. He was 58. No cause of death was reported. Earlier on Thursday, he moderated a Times-sponsored panel on the Oscar-nominated documentary Citizenfour featuring its reclusive subject, NSA leaker Edward Snowden, journalist Glenn Greenwald and director Laura Poitras.
“He was such an outstanding journalist, it may have obscured what an outstanding guy he was,” Bill Carter, a longtime colleague and friend who was the Times‘ TV reporter for more than two decades before leaving recently, told Deadline. “But not to his friends. He was unfailingly generous — warm, funny and what a brilliant writer. My heart aches for his family and for those of us lucky enough to call him a friend.”
Carr had written about media for a quarter-century. His widely read and influential weekly NYT column “The Media Equation” focused on media issues including print, digital, film, radio and television. The column was notable for its often contrarian voice, broad range and abiding affection for old media in the digital world.
“We want our anchors to be both good at reading the news and also pretending to be in the middle of it,” Carr wrote on Monday in a lengthy column about NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams. “That’s why, when the forces of man or Mother Nature whip up chaos, both broadcast and cable news outlets are compelled to ship the whole heaving apparatus to far-flung parts of the globe, with an anchor as the flag bearer.
“We want our anchors to be everywhere, to be impossibly famous, globe-trotting, hilarious, down-to-earth, and above all, trustworthy. It’s a job description that no one can match.”
Before joining the Times in 2002, Carr edited alternative weekly newspapers in Minnesota and Washington D.C., influencing a loyal group of young reporters and editors who, like Carr himself, went on to careers at bigger institutions. He later contributed to The Atlantic Monthly and New York magazine. Carr originated the Times’ Carpetbagger blog in the mid-2000s, covering four Oscar seasons with wit and a reliably arched eyebrow. His Oscar Night videos with the paper’s co-chief film critic A.O. Scott were a highlight amid the awards-season madness. (Watch them discuss last year’s nominees above.)
In 2013, Carr was named the Lack Professor of Media Studies at Boston University, a chair endowed with a $1.66 million gift by former network news executive Andrew Lack, who currently works at Bloomberg News. Carr’s 2008 memoir, The Night Of The Gun, described his battle with cocaine addiction in harrowing detail.
Survivors include Carr’s wife, Jill Rooney Carr; their daughter, Maddie; and twin daughters, Erin and Meagan.