INTRO: It’s been a sad week for American journalism. Longtime “60 Minutes” correspondent and CBS News foreign reporter, Bob Simon, died on Wednesday. NBC News correspondent Ned Colt died early yesterday morning. And late last night, legendary New York Times columnist and media critic David Carr passed away. With an appreciation of Carr, for Uptown Radio, commentator Joe Sykes.
SYKES: Even with all his accomplishments and influence, David Carr still saw himself as an addict. Here he is giving the commencement address at the UC Berkeley School of Journalism, just last year.
Carr: “Hi I’m David Carr and I’m an alcoholic”
But of course he was much more than that. When news broke of his death last night, journalists from around the country expressed their sadness and gratitude to a forward thinking editor, columnist and reporter. Over the years Carr worked tirelessly to bring new voices to the forefront of public life. The Atlantic writer, Ta Nehisi Coates, quoted The Great Gatsby when he tweeted at Carr last night “They’re a rotten crowd. You’re worth the whole damn bunch put together.”
For a wider public, Carr was perhaps best known for the documentary, Page One, about a year in the life of the New York Times. The film translated his ferocious writing style onto the screen. Here he is defending the Times in a meeting with editors at Vice.
Carr: “We’ve been sending journos to cover genocide for years and just because you put on a fucking safari helmet and went to look at some poop that doesn’t give you the right to criticize what we do.”
A fierce champion of journalism in the digital age, Carr began his career at the Twin Cities Reader in Minnesota, before moving to the Washington City Paper in 1995 and then to New York five years later. In his celebrated memoir of addiction, The Night of the Gun, Carr took on the unusual and daring task of re-reporting the darkest moments of his own life. His drug addiction, his battle with alcoholism.
Just before his passing late last night, Carr spent the evening interviewing journalists Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Edward Snowden via Skype about Poitras’s award winning film CitizenFour. In a cliche he would have almost certainly struck from this script, he died doing what he loved.
Perhaps the most fitting way to memorialize Carr is to cite his own advice to young journalists, recorded at Boston University.
CARR: Go out find people more interesting than you, learn about something, come back and tell other people about it.
Such simple advice, so difficult to do well.
Joe Sykes, Columbia Radio News.