New York Times media columnist David Carr dies

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[Photo: New York Times Media Company]

[Photo: New York Times Media Company]

David Carr, a journalist who overcame a tumultuous battle with drug addiction to become the intrepid media columnist for the New York Times, died suddenly at the newspaper’s Manhattan headquarters Thursday evening.

He was 58.

Carr had been moderating a panel on cybersecurity with journalist Glenn Greenwald, filmmaker Laura Poitras and whistleblower Edward Snowden earlier in the evening, the Times said. Shortly after 9:00 p.m., Carr collapsed in the Times’ newsroom. Attempts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful, according to a source who spoke to The Desk. He was rushed to Roosevelt Hospital where he passed away.

A Times employee broke the news of Carr’s death on Twitter. Two sources confirmed the news to The Desk a short time later. Word of Carr’s death shocked close colleagues and distant admirers alike, with the news sinking in for many only after the Times confirmed it in an obituary published Thursday evening.

Carr had covered the media industry for more than a quarter-century, writing columns about the newspaper and magazine industry for the Washington City Paper, the Atlantic and New York Magazine before joining the Times in 2002. He played a starring role in “Page One,” a 2011 documentary about the Times newspaper that contained a scene in which an unfettered Carr went head-to-head with executives at the then-fledgling Vice News.

He was also an early supporter and adopter of emerging storytelling platforms when they were both new and unconventional. In March 2009, he began publishing on Twitter — ahead of many dominating celebrities, world leaders, pundits and fellow journalists — where he attracted nearly half a million followers. The platform he once referred to as a “wired collective voice” honored him Thursday evening by making his name a “trending topic,” a sort of barometer that measures the pseudo-popularity of a topic on Twitter at any given time.

Carr’s rise to fame from within the industry bubble was not without failure. His life as a cocaine addict and dealer in the 1980s — and the troubles and reconciliations that came from it — was a catalyst not only for his life in sobriety, but a story of redemption for fellow journalists who sometimes feel stuck and stumble through their careers.

“That someone as imperfect as Carr could, based on the power of his talent alone, end up working — and thriving — in the newsroom of the New York Times is proof that success is possible for any of us,” journalist Mandy Jenkins wrote.

Carr is survived by his wife and three daughters.

IN HIS OWN WORDS: David Carr’s Reddit “ask-me-anything” session
IN HIS OWN WORDS: David Carr’s 2014 U.C. Berkeley commencement speech