NPR’s Guy Raz, a 2009 Nieman Fellow, offered a reminiscence of New York Times media reporter David Carr, who died Feb. 12:
In 1998, I got my first break in journalism out of college as a freelancer for the City Paper in Washington, D.C. I will never forget the day I made the masthead as a contributor. David Carr was already a legend and I was intimidated as hell by him. In ’98, I mustered the courage to pitch a cover story. To my amazement, he bit. The piece was on the decline and fall of Georgetown University’s radio station and the lefties, dropouts and dreamers who ran it in the ’60s and ’70s. Carr was a fierce and demanding editor. My unedited story, filled with spelling mistakes and errors in detail, was a disaster just days before publication. Carr sat me down in his office and handed me a marked-up copy of the draft. I could barely see my typewritten prose. The margins were filled with questions, suggestions, clarifications, and corrected spelling. I was mortified. He wasn’t gentle about it—he didn’t give me a pass for being a kid—but he was humane and tough and encouraging. I’d worked on the story for months and wondered what the hell I was thinking trying to do journalism. I felt like a complete fraud. Days later, it was published. I headed over to the City Paper office to thank him. “Good job, kid,” he said. “What are you working on next?” That’s all I needed to hear. It meant the world to me that he approved.