I have spent the days since David Carr died getting to know him. I had read him regularly in the NY Times - but had never sought out the video,audio, his book “The Night of the Gun” and the whole syllabus from his course Press Play that fleshed out his amazing career. His writing was a little like the great NY reporter, Murray Kempton - brilliant, but language that never really sounded like the street. It was more like a brilliant dinner in NY than a tweet (although he was active there, too). Carr’s brilliance was an incredible intellect, a very low BS threshold, a fearlessness that was fed by an ego that didn’t need to play it safe. Carr was a rebel. He was raw and open and tough….but his was not about “I” or a lot of self examination. He was about a deep curiosity and no bullshit.
His professional family, The New York Times understood that being human means great personal strength as well as handicaps. “We don’t hire nuns” is how Bill Keller, the Executive Editor of the Times explained when his memoir on crack addiction was published.
I recently visited Kathy Ryan, the longtime photo editor of the NY Time Magazine, and one of the most influential people in photography. When you praise Kathy, she instantly shifts the credit to the Times, who elevated her to find an audience on their magnificent stage. Kathy’s gift ( as was Carr’s) is working her magic in that spotlight.
Carr left an amazing roadmap, outlined in his syllabus for writing course at BY: Press Play. It would be interesting to recreate the course from those ideas and links to read, watch and listen to. In other words, we need to do some homework and dig down hard to give it all meaning and power.