David Carr, whose Monday media columns in The New York Times were almost always insightful and sometimes controversial, has died. He was 58.
Says the Times, Carr “collapsed in The Times newsroom, where he was found shortly before 9 p.m. He was taken to Roosevelt Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.”
The story adds that Carr was best known for “The Media Equation, a Monday column in The Times that analyzed news and developments in publishing, television, social media — for which he was an early evangelist — and other mass communications platforms. His plainspoken style was sometimes blunt, and searingly honest about himself. The effect was both folksy and sophisticated, a voice from a shrewd and well-informed skeptic.”
Recently, Carr wrote about the return to print of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo after the brutal attack against it, and the issue of free speech. Here’s an example, from that column, that’s representative of Carr’s sharp, clear, writing. It’s perceptive, astute and to the point. Carr speaks about the issue of free speech:
“It is a principle we have been fighting for since the time of Rousseau and Voltaire, one that is deeply embedded in civil society. And in a modern, web-enabled world, the effort to limit speech will ultimately be fruitless. The fecklessness of those attempts was underlined during the Edward Snowden leaks, when British security forces in the offices of The Guardian oversaw the destruction of hard drives with power tools. Free expression does not live in a single hard drive, film or newspaper; it is widely distributed and reflexively defended as a fundamental right.
“But even as it becomes more and more obvious that speech of all kinds will carve its own route to an ocean of readers, the impulse to rein it in endures.”
The Times obituary also notes that “Before joining the Times, Mr. Carr was a contributing writer for The Atlantic Monthly and New York magazine. In 2000, he was the media writer for Inside.com, a website focusing on the business of entertainment and publishing.”
The Times also says that Carr is survived by his wife, “Jill Rooney Carr, an event planner, and their daughter Maddie. He also has twin daughters, Erin and Meagan.”