David Carr, the New York Times columnist who was one of the country's leading media critics, died Thursday night after collapsing at the newspaper's office, The Times reported. He was 58.
The Times didn't report a cause of death, but in a memo to the Times staff editor Dean Baquet wrote that Carr collapsed in the newsroom. Baquet said he, Carr's wife, Jill, and one of Carr's daughters were with him in the hospital when he died.
Baquet called Carr "the finest media reporter of his generation," citing his "unending passion for journalism and for truth."
Carr had just finished leading a panel discussion for The Times with Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency computer operative who leaked classified intelligence information to the media in 2013.
Carr's autobiography, "The Night of the Gun," recounted his years as an addict in Minneapolis, where he was editor of The Twin Cities Reader, an alternative weekly newspaper. He later became editor of The Washington City Paper in Washington, D.C., before joining The Times in 2002.
"Junkies, as a matter of course, they don't put things in boxes. They wear them on their head," Carr once said in a video on the promotional website for his book.
"The stories that we tell about ourselves are designed to sort of reveal a part of ourselves to the world. It's the part we want to show. What I learned from two years of reporting, investigation and writing is that you can't know the whole truth. But if there is one, it lies in the space between people."
Carr was also widely considered to have stolen the show as a grumbly, cynical-on-the-surface-only presence in the 2011 documentary "Page One: Inside the New York Times," which, among other adventures, showed him dressing down editors for Vice who were boasting about their video reporting from Liberia. It was a ringing — if profane — defense of mainstream journalists:
"Just a sec, time out. Before you ever went there, we've had reporters there reporting on genocide after genocide," Carr tells them. "Just because you put on a [EXPLETIVE] safari helmet and looked at some poop doesn't give you the right to insult what we do. So continue."
True to his nature, however, Carr reconsidered in 2014:
"Being the crusty old-media scold felt good at the time, but recent events suggest that Vice is deadly serious about doing real news that people, yes, even young people, will actually watch," he wrote, adding: "Although I was cast as a Vice hater, I encouraged my daughter to work there, and it employed her as a video producer for two and a half years until June 2013."
Phil Helsel of NBC News contributed to this report.