The Collected Wisdom of David Carr

Photo: Mark Sagliocco/Getty Images

Beloved New York Times media reporter David Carr died suddenly on Thursday night, leaving friends, readers, and colleagues reeling from the unimaginable loss. Known for his blunt humor and generous spirit, Carr was one of journalism’s sharpest media critics. As his friend and former colleague Brian Stelter put it, “He was the best and most important media reporter of our time and he was explaining this revolution that’s happening to the world around us.” Here, some wit and wisdom from his writings and interviews.

On truth:

Keep in mind that when public figures get in trouble for something they said, it is usually not because they misspoke, but because they accidentally told the truth.” — “The Puppetry of Quotation Approval”

On love:

If marriage is about deciding to love on a daily basis, I have woken up to a no-brainer every day since.”

On the importance of print in the modern media world:

“The hierarchy of the newspaper — when somebody takes six of those stories and puts them on the front, illustrates them, plays them over section fronts — that architecture for me in a digital age is important. I view it as a daily magazine, a prism on what took place yesterday, and I miss it. We live in an age where there is a firehose of information and there is no hierarchy of what is important and what is not.” — 2013 interview with the Vancouver Sun

On hard work:

“No one is going to give a damn about your résumé; they want to see what you have made with your own little fingers.” — The Night of the Gun

On how to be a good journalist:

On journalism as a career choice:

The dirty secret: journalism has always been horrible to get in; you always have to eat so much crap to find a place to stand. I waited tables for seven years, did writing on the side. If you’re gonna get a job that’s a little bit of a caper, that isn’t really a job, that under ideal circumstances you get to at least leave the building and leave your desktop, go out, find people more interesting than you, learn about something, come back and tell other people about it—that should be hard to get into. That should be hard to do. No wonder everybody’s lined up, trying to get into it. It beats working.” — David Carr in conversation with Andrew Lack

On social media:

“Facebook is a bit like that big dog galloping toward you in the park. More often than not, it’s hard to tell whether he wants to play with you or eat you.” — “Facebook Offers a Life Raft, But Publishers Are Wary”

On media’s changing landscape:

“A bunch of old crusty white guys who looked a lot and talked a lot like me, they decided what the news was. It’s not really up to us anymore. It’s up to you. It’s up to your audience.” — 2014 UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism commencement address

On New York:

“The trick of enjoying New York is not to be so busy grinding your way to the center of the earth that you fail to notice the sparkle of the place, a scale and a kind of wonder that puts all human endeavors in their proper place.” — The Night of the Gun

On journalism’s golden age:

“We are entering a golden age of journalism. I do think there has been horrible frictional costs, but I think when we look back at what has happened, I look at my backpack that is sitting here, and it contains more journalistic firepower than the entire newsroom that I walked into 30 to 40 years ago. It’s connected to the cloud, I can make digital recordings of everything that I do, I can check in real time if someone is telling me the truth, I have a still camera that takes video that I can upload quickly and seamlessly.” — 2011 NPR interview

On the best journalism advice he could give:

“Keep typing until it turns into writing.” — 2013 Reddit AMA

On impostor syndrome:

“I now inhabit a life I don’t deserve, but we all walk this earth feeling we are frauds. The trick is to be grateful and hope the caper doesn’t end any time soon.” — The Night of the Gun

On himself: