David Carr’s unexpected death shook many of those familiar with his work, myself included. A couple hours after he died, I wrote this short note and posted it with the recording of his last conference, just moments before he passed away:
This is the heartbreaking last appearance of great David Carr. We will miss him terribly in next years, while trying to untangle the complicated threads between online journalism, social media, internet and what is left of print.
People who knew Carr admired him. I loved his work, and had extreme respect for his personal life and history. I could have meet him, and I am sorry I did not. So when a friend who worked with him called in with the bad news, I dropped everything to watch the streaming of his last appearance onstage, as if I was trying to prevent that terrible moment of death. He was coughing. But even during the last few hours of his life, while in pain, he was not talking about his problems. He was working; explaining to the audience the importance of documentary; asking Snowden for his thoughts on Poitras and Greenwald, the two other journalists instrumental to the NSA leaks in 2013. When the show was over, Carr thanked everyone and waved goodbye. Forever. Whoever says that everyone is replaceable is wrong. No one can replace David Carr.
But nothing shows the great journalist’s complex and rich personality like his own work. He did amazing reporting on the decline and bankruptcy of the Chicago Tribune, and wrote a surprising piece on his long bike ride across upstate New York, a sort of bike ride through his past. As a teacher, he provided impressive material for his class on digital journalism at Boston University. And his work helped and inspired other journalists like myself. In June last year, Carr wrote the column that helped me to clarify my ideas for this very newsletter. But perhaps the most complete article on the double personality of the writer and reporter Carr was published two years ago by the Columbia Journalism Review. Thank you, David Carr, for all that you have done.