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Carr was a mentor for the writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, who said in 2019: "I couldn't imagine myself as a writer if I had not met David Carr. David Carr was the first person who ever believed in me." Carr was also credited for launching Lena Dunham's career and was described by Gawker's John Koblin as the "Daddy" of TV series Girls.
He was featured prominently in the 2011 documentary Page One: Inside the New York Times, where he was shown interviewing staff from Vice, whom Carr called out for their lack of journalistic knowledge. The article about Vice was noteworthy for its clear depiction of the conflict between new online journalism and traditional journalism.
In 2014, he was named the Lack Professor of Media Studies at Boston University, a part-time position where he taught a journalism class called Press Play: Making and distributing content in the present future.
Carr divorced his first wife, Kimberly, in 1986. In 1988, he had twin daughters, Erin and Meagan, with partner Anna Lee. The couple lost custody of the children, who went into foster care until Carr went through rehab and gained custody of the girls.Erin Lee Carr is a documentary film director.
He married his second wife, Jill L. Rooney, in 1994; the couple had one child, a daughter, Maddie. He described himself as a church-going Roman Catholic. He resided in Montclair, New Jersey, with his wife and three daughters.
In September 2015, The New York Times announced a fellowship in his name that would be dedicated to fostering the growth and development of journalists. The first three fellowship recipients, chosen by a panel of Times editors from among more than 600 applicants, were John Herrman, a co-editor and media reporter for The Awl; Amanda Hess, a staff writer at Slate; and Greg Howard, a reporter for Deadspin.
In 2016, a David Carr Prize for Emerging Writers at SXSW was presented to author Jaime Boust. The piece was to cover what is exciting (or unnerving) about life in the coming years in 2,000 words or less.