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Boston University colleagues and students of the late New York Times columnist David Carr gathered Wednesday afternoon on campus for a memorial service following Carr's sudden death last week due to complications from lung cancer.
It was an intimate memorial service for the writer who struggled with drug addiction and homelessness earlier in life. Carr seemed to have found a new love in teaching journalism to students entering the field in a time of tumult.
Among those who spoke was Claire Giangrave. She was one of Carr's students last fall, and last week she struggled with the news of his death.
"Part of it, since we're all writers, was writing down what I felt, and I'd like to read it to you," she said. "In a small room at Boston University, David Carr told me his whole life. He shared it with me freely, without my even asking. He did not try to protect his image. In fact, he highlighted his weaknesses. He paused on his mistakes."
Jasper Craven had Carr this winter. Because of the parade of snowstorms this term, Carr's class met only once.
Carr's course was the only one at BU's College of Communication for which students had to apply. About four times as many students applied as were admitted. But Craven did not give up when he didn't get in the first time. He found out over the summer that Carr was making an appearance in Washington.
"Afterwards, I came up to him and was talking to him a little bit and I was like: 'Why didn't I get into your fall class?' " Craven said.
"And he was like: 'Well you seem like a smart kid, so you must have just done a half-ass job on the essay.' And I was like, 'Yeah, you may be right,' " Craven recalled. "But he still ... he then talked to me about my interest in journalism for 10 or 15 minutes, said he would try his hardest to make sure I had his class in the spring and invited me to visit his office hours in the fall."
Craven called Carr a hero to him and his colleagues in the newspaper room at BU, because he was a champion for changing the business model for journalism that young journalists enter into as they leave school.
The students attended a brief, emotional class this week where they shared their feelings about losing Carr as a professor. Replacing him will be hard. He created the course, meant to explore how journalism can work as it develops on new platforms. BU has secured two leaders in journalism to take up the class: Ta-Nehisi Coates, a protege of Carr's, now a senior editor of The Atlantic, and Martin Nisenholtz, former head of The New York Times' digital operations.
This segment aired on February 18, 2015.
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