Brian Stelter to David Carr: 'Thank you for the spice'

CNN "Reliable Sources" host Brian Stelter on Monday paid tribute to David Carr, the former New York Times "Media Equation" columnist who died in February from complications related to lung cancer.

Stelter's short speech honoring Carr took place onstage at the Webby Awards, an annual celebration that recognizes excellence on the Internet.

"David Carr loved this room," said Stelter, who was a colleague of Carr's at The New York Times before he left for CNN. "A room full of people making stuff, experimenting, screwing up and experimenting some more. As the media columnist for The New York Times, that's exactly what David was encouraging."

At one point in the speech, Stelter's voice changed as he attempted to emulate Carr's distinctive raspy tones.

"I could tell he really liked a story when he would lean into me and he would say, 'that's tangy.' It's hard to even say it — but 'tangy.' Or even better, I knew it was a really good story when he would say, 'spicy.'"

"So tonight, I hope he can hear my five words," he concluded. "David, thank you for the spice."

Here's a transcript of Stelter's speech.

David Carr loved this room. A room full of people making stuff, experimenting, screwing up and experimenting some more. As the media columnist for The New York Times, that's exactly what David was encouraging. Every week, with his columns, he was helping the world see and confront and embrace the digital revolution. When he died in February, near his desk in the Times newsroom, I felt like we had all been suddenly blinded, like we could not see it anymore.

We needed him as a guide. David is survived by the loves of his life, his wife Jill, his daughters Erin, Maddie and Megan. David was my friend, teacher and mentor. So lately I've been rereading his old stories — something I recommend all of you do — including one from 2005, about this award show. I can't do his voice — nobody could do his voice — so I'll just read:

"The Web," he wrote, "has become a sandbox where anarchy and commerce play." Still very true today, 10 years later. David was webby before the Web or these Webbies were around. He was a natural-born connector of people and ideas. He was incredibly generous with his time, always just an email away, and he was made for Twitter. His columns and blog posts were long, but they wasted no words. He wrote bluntly and adventurously and always fairly.

David called out B.S. when he saw it, sometimes in some of you, knowing his subjects would begrudgingly respect him for it. He appreciated history and he treasured journalism's core values. But he was most excited by what's coming next.

When we would talk about the next story, his eyes would light up. I could tell he really liked a story when he would lean into me and he would say, "that's tangy." It's hard to even say it, but "tangy." Or even better, I knew it was a really good story when he would say, "spicy." Spicy.

So tonight, I hope he can hear my five words. David, thank you for the spice.

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    Benjamin Mullin

    Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of Poynter.org. He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism innovation, business practices and ethics.

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