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Craven: Upbeat Oracle

News of David Carr’s death stunned people who believe in the importance of probing journalism in our turbulent world. Carr’s passion and precision inspired new reporters and he took great pleasure in mentoring young writers still finding their voice. One budding journalist he took under his wing was my son, Jasper.Jasper first met Carr last July, while he was working as a summer Washington correspondent for the Rutland Herald and Times Argus. Jasper’s a student at Boston University and he caught wind of a BU alumni-only reception for Carr. He managed to slip into the back of the room to nibble stuffed grape leaves and hear what the maverick media writer had to say.

Jasper was curious and, despite his solid resume, he had been turned down for a class Carr planned to teach at BU last fall. When Carr took questions, my son shot his hand into the air.

“I have two questions,” said Jasper. “One has to do with media ethics. The other has to do with why I didn’t get into your class.”

Carr laughed; said he knew nothing about the college selection process; then he answered the rest of Jasper’s question. After Carr finished speaking, he came looking for Jasper and they talked.

Carr tried, but he still couldn’t shoehorn Jasper into his class. But my son found the New York Times journalist the day he arrived on campus. Carr nicknamed Jasper “the stalker” and invited him into his office for an hour and a half conversation about media, movies, and politics. He asked Jasper to send him sample articles and they met throughout the fall. In one follow-up e-mail Carr suggested that Jasper start a political blog and he closed his note by offering to – quote “do whatever I can to help you with your plan to take over the world.”

This semester, Carr wrote to say that he’d landed Jasper a place in his small class. Boston blizzards prevented two of his three sessions from meeting. Then David Carr died, unexpectedly.

Jasper wrote a Boston Globe tribute to his mentor, saying – quote -

“When I receive career advice as a print journalism student, if’s often to ‘give it all up and go to law school.’ So for young journalists who are so often barraged with bad news about the industry, David Carr was the upbeat oracle who always offered a bright forecast. His career advice was ‘keep typing.’

“David Carr believed we were entering a new golden age of journalism,” Jasper wrote. “Thanks to him, maybe we are.”

Jay Craven is a filmmaker who teaches at Sarah Lawrence College and directs Kingdom County Productions
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