"Keep typing until it turns into writing": 15 pieces of sage wisdom from NYT columnist David Carr

The wise words David Carr gave us will live on forever.

Published February 13, 2015 6:02PM (EST)

David Carr    (AP/Michel Euler)
David Carr (AP/Michel Euler)

David Carr, acclaimed New York Times media columnist and rumpled mensch, died Thursday night in Manhattan. He is survived, however, by his wife, three children -- and the sage wisdom he dispensed.

Whether it was face-to-face communication, a Reddit AMA or a college commencement speech, Carr's tell-it-like-it-is approach to storytelling was always a treat.

We've rounded up some of Carr's wisest moments from around the web to commemorate.

On how a young, aspiring journalist can achieve success (Reddit AMA): 

"You have to make stuff. The tools of journalism are in your hands and no one is going to give a damn about what is on your resume, they want to see what you have made with your own little fingies. Can you use Final Cut Pro? Have you created an Instagram that is about something besides a picture of your cat every time she rolls over? Is HTML 5 a foreign language to you? Is your social media presence dominated by a picture of your beer bong, or is it an RSS of interesting stuff that you add insight to? People who are doing hires will have great visibility into what you can actually do, what you care about and how you can express on any number of platforms."

On fitting into a company's culture (Vanity Fair): 

"Before you stick out, you have to fit in. So to be a worker among workers, it's really important to establish the fact that you're willing to get in the boat and row. Don't try to go to the front of the boat before you've earned your place."

On anchor Brian Williams' scandal (New York Times): 

"We want our anchors to be both good at reading the news and also pretending to be in the middle of it."

On how to make it in journalism (Dublin Institute of Technology): 

"The fact that you’ve got stories that landed that were real, even though they didn’t end up where you wanted, those are yours, those are yours to keep and if you get enough of them pretty soon someone will hand you a megaphone and you’ll be able to shout out from a very high perch indeed; stay at it. I mean, my advice is remain patient but be impatient with your patience."

On the key to effective journalism (@carrasquillo):

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On learning to love New York ("The Night of the Gun"): 

"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."

On dealing with the people of Twitter (Sasha Stone, @AwardsDaily):

[embedtweet id="566085370480050176"]

On the British Press hacking scandal (Reddit AMA): 

"I think of News Corporation as very talented entertainment and media organization that will use whatever sort of leverage that they can. They are like a pirate ship that comes to whatever port they are in, surveys the landscape and then gets to work."

On getting through the day and the meaning of life (Medium): 

"Everything — every relationship, every person, every job — has its time in life, and then, as he noted, all of a sudden it doesn’t."

On navigating "Hollywood" (Margaret Stohl, @mstohl):

On the 'decency' of the future generation (Commencement speech, UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism): 

On HBO's "Girls" and Lena Dunham's stardom (Reddit AMA): 

"People love to ankle bite her because she grew up well-situated, but nobody gave her a tv show for that. Nobody convinced Judd Apatow to co-produce because of who her parents were and HBO did not pick up Girls for a second season because she is wired. She's not, really. She is really talented and working her way toward making a show that people are going to talk about for years to come. Some to praise it and some to trash it."

On himself as a professor (Boston University College syllabus): 

"Your professor is a terrible singer and a decent dancer. He is a movie crier but stone-faced in real life. He never laughs even when he is actually amused. He hates suck-ups, people who treat waitresses and cab drivers poorly, and anybody who think diversity is just an academic conceit. He is a big sucker for the hard worker and is rarely dazzled by brilliance. He has little patience for people who pretend to ask questions when all they really want to do is make a speech."

On the "Golden Age" of journalism (NPR):

"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."

On the best advice he's received (Reddit AMA): 

"Keep typing until it turns into writing."


By Colin Gorenstein

Colin Gorenstein is Salon's assistant editor of internet and viral content. Follow @colingorenstein or email cgorenstein@salon.com.

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