Lessons from David Carr

It’s been four years since David Carr, the New York Times media columnist, died after collapsing in the Times’ newsroom. That’s four years we’ve have had to think countless times “I wish Carr were still around to see this,” as we were reminded over the weekend in Scott Simon’s interview with Carr’s daughter, who has a new book, “All That You Leave Behind.”

Carr had a promising journalism career in the Twin Cities until he started smoking crack in the mid-’80s, was addicted to alcohol, recovered, raised a family, and became the conscience of American journalism, which has been sorely lacking since his death.

Erin Lee Carr has had her own bout with alcohol addiction, got sober, then relapsed, she said in a heartbreaking interview.

“I mean, the first year was — I mean, I only — basically, I only got to nine months my first bout of sobriety,” she told Scott Simon. “And so then I drank again. And within a couple of months, something terrible happened. And I remember that my sister was like, this is — you have to tell dad now. And as is our way, I sent him an email saying that I had drank again. And he said, ‘I am in your corner.’ And then he died.”

She still sends him text messages and when her book came out recently, she sent him an email. It bounced back, of course.

Her book, a portion of which she read during the interview, lists what she learned from David Carr.

Be grateful for the things you have in this life. You are lucky. Practice patience, even though it’s one of the hardest things to master.

Failure is a part of the process, maybe the most important part. Alcohol is not a necessary component of life. Street hot dogs are not your friend. Remind yourself that nobody said this would be easy.

  • MrE85

    I never knew Carr, but his is quite the story. As is hers.

    I remember the Twin Cities Reader, of course, and I know some of the local scribes who worked with Carr back in the days.

  • Andy

    I remember reading ‘Night of the Gun’, and being very moved by the tenderness he used when speaking about his daughters. His story of recovery was a huge influence on mine, and clearly Erin’s. That should stand on equal footing with journalistic chops as his lasting legacy.