We’re approaching the first anniversary of David Carr’s death. Carr was the New York Times media critic, a former drug addict and newspaper editor who was adored by most (possibly all) reporters and media pundits. I have never seen anyone say a bad word about him. Considering how much time his cohort spends on Twitter, a platform not known for its users’ niceness or ubiquity of opinion, that’s impressive.
When Carr died I had just started becoming interested in journalism as a discipline and economic phenomenon. I had no idea who he was. It was bizarre to see, as Ben Thompson put it, “a nearly unending stream of expressions of grief mixed with personal anecdotes of a figure so clearly beloved.” Bizarre not because I found the outpouring unbelievable — I didn’t — but because I had just started following a bunch of tech and media analysts. It was the first topic that I watched everyone converge upon. The next was probably some Gawker-related scandal.
In a way, although it was tragic, David Carr’s passing was a wonderful introduction to a normally contentious community. I got to see everybody at their best, united in affection and gratitude for someone’s ideas and mentorship. Admittedly I enjoy the everyday arguments about ethics and money, which involve no shortage of sniping and ad hominems, but I’m glad that I know all these @handles can be kind too.