David Carr (journalist)

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David Carr
David Carr at the 2013 PuSh International Performing Arts Festival
David Michael Carr

(1956-09-08)September 8, 1956
Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.
DiedFebruary 12, 2015(2015-02-12) (aged 58)
New York City, U.S.
EducationUniversity of Wisconsin–River Falls
University of Minnesota
  • Writer
  • editor
Years active1980s–2015
EmployerThe New York Times
  • Kimberly J. Carr (divorced 1986)
  • Jill Rooney
    (m. 1994)
Children3, including Erin Lee Carr

David Michael Carr (September 8, 1956 – February 12, 2015) was an American columnist, author, and newspaper editor. He wrote the Media Equation column and covered culture for The New York Times.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

David Michael Carr was born on September 8, 1956[3] in Minneapolis, to Joan Laura Carr (née O'Neill), a local community leader, and John Lawrence Carr.[3][4] He had three brothers and three sisters[4] and grew up in the suburb of Minnetonka. He attended the University of Wisconsin–River Falls and the University of Minnesota; he graduated from the latter with a degree in psychology and journalism.[2][5][6]


In the early 1980s, Carr got his first job at the alternative weekly Twin Cities Reader where he became its editor.[7] He also edited the Washington City Paper[7] and then later joined the short-lived media news website Inside.com.[8] He wrote extensively about the media for The Atlantic Monthly and New York.[9]

He joined The New York Times in 2002, where he was a cultural reporter and wrote The New York Times Carpetbagger blog.[10] He remained at The New York Times until his death.[9][11]

In his 2008 memoir, The Night of the Gun, Carr detailed his experiences with cocaine addiction and included interviews with people from his past, tackling his memoir as if he were reporting on himself.[12] The memoir was excerpted in The New York Times Magazine.[13]

Carr in conversation with Vice co-founder Shane Smith at the 2013 Web Summit

Carr was a mentor for the writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, who said in 2019: "I couldn't imagine myself as a writer if I had not met David Carr. David Carr was the first person who ever believed in me."[14] Carr was also credited for launching Lena Dunham's career and was described by Gawker's John Koblin as the "Daddy" of TV series Girls.[15]

He was featured prominently in the 2011 documentary Page One: Inside the New York Times, where he was shown interviewing staff from Vice, whom Carr called out for their lack of journalistic knowledge.[16][17] The article about Vice was noteworthy for its clear depiction of the conflict between new online journalism and traditional journalism.[18]

In 2014, he was named the Lack Professor of Media Studies at Boston University, a part-time position where he taught a journalism class called Press Play: Making and distributing content in the present future.[19][20]

Personal life[edit]

Carr divorced his first wife, Kimberly, in 1986.[21] In 1988, he had twin daughters, Erin and Meagan, with partner Anna Lee.[13] The couple lost custody of the children, who went into foster care until Carr went through rehab and gained custody of the girls.[13] Erin Lee Carr is a documentary film director. He married his second wife, Jill L. Rooney, in 1994;[22] the couple had one child, a daughter, Maddie.[23]

He described himself as a church-going Catholic.[24] He resided in Montclair, New Jersey, with his wife and three daughters.[23]

Carr had previously battled Hodgkin's lymphoma, and reported developing his hoarse speaking voice during his coverage of the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.[24]


On February 12, 2015, at around 9 p.m. EST, Carr collapsed in the newsroom of The New York Times, and was pronounced dead at Mount Sinai Roosevelt Hospital, at the age of 58.[2][25][26] The cause of death was lung cancer, with heart disease listed as a contributing factor.[27][28]


In September 2015, The New York Times announced a fellowship in his name that would be dedicated to fostering the growth and development of journalists.[29] The first three fellowship recipients, chosen by a panel of Times editors from among more than 600 applicants, were John Herrman, a co-editor and media reporter for The Awl; Amanda Hess, a staff writer at Slate; and Greg Howard, a reporter for Deadspin.[30]

In 2016, a David Carr Prize for Emerging Writers at SXSW was presented to author Jaime Boust. The piece was to cover what is exciting (or unnerving) about life in the coming years in 2,000 words or less.[31]


  • The Night of the Gun: A Reporter Investigates the Darkest Story of His Life, His Own. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008. ISBN 978-1-416-54152-3.


  • 2008: Book Discussion on The Night of the Gun, Olssen's Books & Records, Washington, D.C., "Book TV," C-SPAN 2. September 17, 2008.[32]
  • 2011: Page One: Inside the New York Times documentary film
  • 2013: IAmA columnist and reporter on media and culture for the New York Times[33] Reddit interview
  • 2014: Commencement Address to the UC Berkeley, Graduate School of Journalism Class of 2014[34]


  1. ^ "David Carr, 58, noted columnist on media". The Philadelphia Inquirer. New York: Philadelphia Media Network. February 13, 2015. Archived from the original (Obituary) on October 4, 2022.
  2. ^ a b c Weber, Bruce; Southhall, Ashley (February 12, 2015). "David Carr, Media Equation Columnist for The Times, Is Dead at 58". The New York Times. Retrieved February 12, 2015.
  3. ^ a b "David Michael Carr - Minnesota, Birth Index". familysearch.org. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
  4. ^ a b Her, Lucy Y. (June 18, 1999). "Obituaries: Joan O'Neill Carr, 71, Hopkins community leader". StarTribune. Archived from the original on February 13, 2015. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
  5. ^ Sorkin, Aaron (June 15, 2011). "Culture: David Carr". Interview. Retrieved September 8, 2011.
  6. ^ Strauss, Valerie (February 13, 2015). "What David Carr told me about standardized testing — and his unconventional schooling". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 14, 2015.
  7. ^ a b "David Carr". Cityfile New York. Archived from the original on September 12, 2008. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
  8. ^ Kurtz, Howard (May 3, 2000). "Point and Clique". Washington Post.
  9. ^ a b Mai-Duc, Christine; Duvoisin, Marc (February 13, 2015). "David Carr dies at 58; sharp, irreverent New York Times writer". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 14, 2015.
  10. ^ Handy, Bruce (August 10, 2008). "His Dark Material". The New York Times. Retrieved February 14, 2015.
  11. ^ Scott, A.O. (February 13, 2015). "Media; An Appraisal: David Carr, a Journalist at the Center of the Sweet Spot". The New York Times. Retrieved February 14, 2015.
  12. ^ Elliott, Stephen. "Q&A with David Carr, 'Night of the Gun' author". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved February 14, 2015.
  13. ^ a b c Carr, David (July 20, 2008). "Me and My Girls". The New York Times. Retrieved July 19, 2011.
  14. ^ Carr, Erin Lee. "Erin Lee Carr and Ta-Nehisi Coates Remember David Carr". Library Talks Podcast. Retrieved June 11, 2019.
  15. ^ Koblin, John. "How David Carr Became the Daddy of Girls". Gawker. Archived from the original on February 15, 2015. Retrieved February 16, 2015.
  16. ^ Holmes, Jack (February 13, 2015). "David Carr Takes 'Vice' To School". The Daily Beast. Retrieved February 16, 2015.
  17. ^ "The Quotable David Carr". The New York Times. February 13, 2015. Retrieved February 14, 2015.
  18. ^ Carr, David. "The Media Equation: Inviting In a Brash Outsider". The New York Times. Retrieved February 16, 2015.
  19. ^ Surmacz, Jonathan (February 13, 2015). "David Carr, 1956–2015: COM prof and New York Times columnist dies unexpectedly". BU Today. Boston University. Retrieved February 16, 2015.
  20. ^ Carr, David (August 4, 2014). "Press Play: Making and distributing content in the present future we are living through" (Website for Boston University course). Medium. Retrieved February 14, 2015.
  21. ^ "Kimberly J Carr - Minnesota, Divorce Index". FamilySearch. Retrieved February 16, 2015.
  22. ^ "David M Carr mentioned in the record of David M Carr and Jill L Rooney". FamilySearch. Retrieved February 16, 2015.
  23. ^ a b "Times Topics: People David Carr". The New York Times. 2011. Retrieved July 19, 2011.
  24. ^ a b Gross, Terry (October 27, 2011). "David Carr: A Media Omnivore Discusses His Diet" (Audio interview). Fresh Air. NPR. Retrieved February 16, 2015.
  25. ^ "Remembering David Carr". The New York Times. February 13, 2015. Retrieved February 16, 2015.
  26. ^ Mencimer, Stephanie (February 13, 2015). "Missing David Carr: What the hell do we do now?". Mother Jones. Retrieved February 16, 2015.
  27. ^ Barlow, Rich. "David Carr: A Will to Excel and to Connect with Others". Bostonia. Boston University. Retrieved February 20, 2015.
  28. ^ Slotnick, Daniel E. (February 14, 2015). "Autopsy Cites Cancer as Cause in Death of Times Reporter". The New York Times. Retrieved February 14, 2015.
  29. ^ Somaiya, Ravi (September 14, 2015). "The Times Announces a Fellowship Named for David Carr". The New York Times. Retrieved September 14, 2015.
  30. ^ Somaiya, Ravi (February 23, 2016). "New York Times Awards David Carr Fellowships to 3 Journalists". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 8, 2016.
  31. ^ "SXSW Shopping Cart | SXSW Conference & Festivals". cart.sxsw.com. Retrieved June 23, 2021.
  32. ^ "Book Discussion on The Night of the Gun". C-SPAN 2. September 17, 2008. Retrieved September 14, 2015.
  33. ^ Carr, David (January 14, 2013). "IAmA columnist and reporter on media and culture for the New York Times". Reddit. Retrieved September 14, 2015.
  34. ^ Keys, Matthew (February 15, 2015). "In his own words: David Carr at the U.C. Berkeley School of Journalism (includes transcript)". The Desk: Journalism and Social Media by Matthew Keys. Retrieved September 14, 2015.

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