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David Carr, who edited Washington City Paper from 1995 to 2000, died suddenly Thursday night after he collapsed in the newsroom of the New York Times, where he’d been the media critic since 2002. He was 58.
It’s tempting, when faced with news so sad, to just ignore it and hope it’ll go away. But that’d be an especially inapt way to deal with this loss. I never worked with Carr, but I read the paper when he ran it, lapping up his Paper Trail columns, full of gossip about what was going on in D.C.’s newsrooms (especially the Post‘s) in an era before gChat and text messages and subtweets made it feel omnipresent. The same spirit that animated his own writing—with fearless, and endless, reporting backing up funny, swaggering writing—came through on virtually every page of City Papers of the era. Carr turned people like Ta-Nehisi Coates, Amanda Ripley, Eddie Dean, Jake Tapper, Annys Shin, David Plotz, Jason Cherkis, and Michael Schaffer loose on the District, and they seemed to be having as good a time making the paper as the rest of us did reading it.
City Paper will have more tributes to Carr here soon. If you worked with him and want to send some thoughts along, email me.
In the meantime, you can read some of his work here in our archives.
They’re a bit of a disorganized digital mess, which wouldn’t have surprised Carr, who declared alt-weeklies all but overwhelmed by the Web a few years ago in the Times. His recent weekly columns and frequent blog posts there had a way of causing, and simultaneously easing, anxiety about the future of the business; on the one hand, there was a lot of bad news, but on the other hand, if Carr was still at it, surely the rest of us could carry on, too.
What a shame we won’t be able to read him this week, when we’ll all need it.
Screen shot from Page One