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Screen Talk: We Say Goodbye to David Carr, Debate What Will Win Best Picture and Foreign Film

Screen Talk: We Say Goodbye to David Carr, Debate What Will Win Best Picture and Foreign Film

Carr died with his boots on, at his office desk, after moderating a panel with “Citizenfour” director Laura Poitras and Edward Snowden (here).

I first met David when he created his alternative Carpetbagger persona at The New York Times, which allowed him to experiment with blogging and awards coverage as an outsider (a status he lost before long), doing video interviews and playing with social media, which he knew, instinctively, would inform his understanding of the digital universe that was transforming journalism at The New York Times and everywhere else.

He soon returned to the paper’s media beat and applied his reporter chops and insight to parsing the larger media world as it morphed into something new, from the travails at The Chicago Tribune, to newbie Vice, all covered in the 2011 documentary “Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times.” Carr wisely dodged filmmaker Andrew Rossi’s offer to center the film on him, but the NYT columnist and expert social mediaite nonetheless often risked James Franco levels of overexposure. Carr, the author of the confessional memoir “The Night of the Gun,” about his years of drug addiction, also possessed a canny sense of self-promotion, as many successful web players do. When I interviewed Rossi and Carr for a Sundance panel after its premiere, the room greeted Carr with a standing ovation. The ranks of those who admire him inside and outside of journalism have only grown since then, and the response to his death has been enormous. 

“We all have more tools than any newsroom when I first walked into one,” Carr told the room. “That guy in the front row, he’s posting, he’s shooting video, he’s probably recording, he’s tweeting, he’s doing God knows what.” 

Carr turns out to have been right when he stated that originating news is “the killer app on the web, and always has been. You can’t just put some topspin on what someone else said and expect to make a living. We have 1,100 people in the newsroom. It’s very expensive, but it can be very lucrative as well.”

The man was witty and generous, curious and questing, always eager to learn new things. One year he invited me via Twitter to an impromptu meet-up at the Hotel Driskell at SXSW, where I met a group of whip-smart people including Yancy Strickler of Kickstarter. As of today Carr had 469K followers on Twitter (@carr2n: “David Carr writes Media Equation column, blogs @ Decoder & covers pop culture at NY Times. Tweets news, ephemera and links. Thinks Web nice is the new black.”), but he admitted that without the New York Times he’d have far less. “I have this nice, personal brand, but the fact that it’s stapled to this huge megaphone is what makes it important.” 
Carr mentored and promoted such rising stars as blogger-turned-Timesman Brian Stelter, now at CNN, who is among those devastated by losing Carr, as a friend and as someone we all looked forward to reading every week–if not every day.

The NYT has organized many Carr video clips here.

We also talk about the upcoming Oscar race and why it’s tough to pick the Best Picture and Foreign Oscar winners this year, as “Birdman” and “Boyhood,” “Wild Tales” and “Ida,” may be too close to call. 

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