David Carr was one of my dearest friends

NY Times media columnist David Carr dies at 58
NY Times media columnist David Carr dies at 58

Since the making of "Page One," David Carr was one of my dearest friends.

He could be, at turns, a fiercely loyal advocate and a shoulder to lean on, while at other times, an aggressive and funny caller of your BS. But always he left you 'touched' somehow with an insight or a phrase echoing in your mind that could enliven the rest of your day or maybe even set you off on a grand caper.

That's what happened when I visited David in the Times newsroom in 2009, when the idea of producing a documentary about the state of media was hatched.

He introduced me to his fellow media desk colleagues Bruce Headlam (then department editor), Brian Stelter (now CNN's senior media correspondent) and Tim Arango (now Baghdad bureau chief) who all became part of an "old-style platoon movie" about journalists covering the disruption of their industry while fighting to keep it alive.

David went to bat for me so I could gain access to shoot in the newsroom, and thus began an amazing journey.

Following David for two years was a master class not just in journalism but in so many other aspects of life: fatherhood, friendship, house party dancing, short order cooking and risk taking.

carr rossi utah
Andrew Rossi and David Carr attend the Page One premiere at the Temple Theatre during the 2011 Sundance Film Festival

He had a deep sense of what mattered to him (his family, his credibility, his craft), but he was willing to go out on a limb, and he was an early promoter of so many digital tools, even if he seemed like a stodgy defender of the old school to some in Silicon Valley.

Yes, he wanted to protect the boots-on-the-ground reporting, which heretofore relied on print advertising, but he celebrated the "self-cleaning oven" ethos of the web, and he believed in the destiny of the Times as a multimedia content creator, not a stack of paper which he readily predicted would become like vinyl records in the not-so-distant future.

The fact that David has passed so suddenly is incredibly sad, although as many know, David struggled throughout his life with a series of challenges, from addiction to multiple forms of cancer and a panoply of other chapters in life, which he chronicled with emotion and exquisite self-awareness in his memoir, Night of the Gun.

Related: NYT columnist David Carr dies

It's impossible to process the grief that his wife Jill and daughters Madde, Erin and Meagan must be feeling right now. He created with them a home in Montclair that was a joy to be a part of, and his extended family in Minneapolis are among the kindest and most open clan one could meet. The Carrs are infused with a spirit of civic engagement, belief in the underdog, love of music, film, writing and sports that will likely spawn generations of spectacular talent and accomplishment.

Everyone who was touched by David, either in person or through his perch at the Times and many outlets before, was the recipient of a gift.

Even Vice's CEO, Shane Smith, the object of David's sharp words defending the Times in Page One, will tell you that he came away from the encounter with a deep respect for David, a friendship, and -- possibly -- some new insight.

Among the best ways to honor David's memory, I think, is to try to live as fully and truthfully and daringly as David did. How much life he had in just these 58 years.

Rest in peace, friend.

-- Andrew Rossi is a filmmaker. In 2011 he directed Page One: Inside the New York Times, which was nominated for two News & Documentary Emmys.


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