David Carr, Appreciation from a Blogger and Fan

It was not until 2009, however, when I read his memoir, The Night of the Gun, that I began to understand and appreciate Carr for more than his gifts as a reporter and columnist. It’s amazing how much can be revealed about a person’s humanity in a memoir about hitting rock-bottom from crack addiction.

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This morning, there are countless remembrances of New York Times columnist David Carr, who died suddenly last night in Manhattan. Most are from the journalists with whom he worked, befriended and inspired.

While David Carr and I share a few professional friends and acquaintances, besides a couple of brief chats at SXSW functions or media conferences in New York (the kind that all blur together), I never knew him, knew him.

But this morning, I find myself feeling like I did know him in a way that long-ago bloggers (before we were told by experts that blogs were supposed to have a business model or fit into some SEO scheme) used to know one-another, especially if we blogged about overlapping topics.

So as a blogger, I go way-back with David. As a blogger, I am feeling a loss for someone I’ve admired, primarily through the tens of thousands of words he’s written that I’ve read.

In the earlier days of this blog, back when David was covering the magazine industry, I used RexBlog.com to share lots of news about magazines (circa 2003), so I linked to his stories a lot. And those times being those times, I would often add snarky comments. And once in a while he would respond.

It was not until 2009, however, when I read his memoir, The Night of the Gun, that I began to understand and appreciate Carr for more than his gifts as a reporter and columnist. It’s amazing how much can be revealed about a person’s humanity in a memoir about hitting rock-bottom from crack addiction.

And then, in 2011, the documentary, Page One: Inside the New York Times, was released.

To me, one of the most fascinating aspects of the film was the professional relationship between Carr and Brian Stetler, who I’ve also blogged about since the days he was a teenager who demonstrated how to use the blogging platform to create a must-read industry trade medium.

Carr, the hard-knocks old school journalist and Stetler, the new media virtuoso, seemed at first to be an odd couple. Yet their mutual respect–something I called earlier today on Twitter, “bro-journo,” was quickly apparent to those who read and watched them (and others at the NYT) push forward with digital approaches to covering their shared media beats.

At some point, it became apparent to me that David and Brian were more alike, than different.

They were coming from two different directions, but both directions entered the Times from “the outside.” No Ivy League degrees. No years climbing ladders at a daily news paper in Kansas. Brian came to the NYT straight from a student apartment at Towson University (I blogged about how, on his first day, he had 5 by-lines) and David, a journey from such an outside place, that its residents have to be cured treated just to take the first step of any journey.

So while I didn’t know David, all that linking to words he wrote over the course of several years leaves me a little empty today. I’m saddened for his family’s loss.  And for Brian’s. And for everyone who will miss the insight and attitude that made him known to everyone who became his fan.

And for the bloggers and others who have something to say, something important to hear, but who are still outside.

RIP, @carr2n