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John S. Carroll, Former Editor At 'LA Times,' 'Baltimore Sun,' Dies At 73

John Carroll, then executive vice president and editor of <em>The Los Angeles Times</em>, speaking at a panel discussion with fellow editors in 2003. Carroll died Sunday at age 73.
Paul Sakuma
John Carroll, then executive vice president and editor of The Los Angeles Times, speaking at a panel discussion with fellow editors in 2003. Carroll died Sunday at age 73.

Updated Monday at 5:45 a.m. ET.

John S. Carroll, a former editor of The Baltimore Sun and The Los Angeles Times, which he led to 13 Pulitzer Prizes in his short tenure — has died at age 73.

The LA Times described Carroll as "a courageous editor [who had an] instinct for the big story and unrelenting focus." The newspaper reported he died Sunday in Lexington, Ky., of Creutzfeldt-Jakob, a degenerative brain disease.

In his long career, Carroll also spent time at The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Lexington Herald-Leader and The Baltimore Sun.

He joined the Sun as a reporter and covered the Vietnam War for the newspaper. Later, during his time as the paper's editor, it "won two Pulitzer Prizes for an investigation into the dangers of ship-breaking and a series about a major league umpire's children who were dying of a genetic disease," according to the Sun.

"For a publisher, John was a dream to work with, always trying to improve the paper," Michael E. Waller, publisher of the Sun from 1997 to 2002, was quoted by the newspaper as saying. "He was a genius at spotting small stories that he thought might hide bigger truths. He'd assign a reporter to check it out and often would wind up with a significant investigative project, such as the dangerous ship-salvaging business."

The 13 Pulitzers the Times won in Carroll's five years there compare to a total of eight won by the paper in the whole of the 1990s.

According to The Associated Press, Carroll's departure at the LA Times "came amid increasing tensions over newsroom budget cuts and the paper's direction with corporate owner, the Tribune Company."

"He received a standing ovation from the staff when he announced his resignation, and the Times' then-publisher Jeff Johnson told The Associated Press that Carroll left behind an 'extraordinary legacy of journalistic excellence.' "

NPR Senior Vice President, News and Editorial Director Michael Oreskes offered these thoughts:

John Carroll was one of the greatest members of that "greatest generation" of newspaper editors that also numbered Ben Bradlee at The Washington Post, Gene Roberts at The Philadelphia Inquirer and Abe Rosenthal at The New York Times. They led their newsrooms with the focus on great journalism at a time when strong business still let them put this public mission ahead of a struggle for the future. We understand that digital future better now and what we need to do to assure that journalism continues to thrive. John's greatest legacy should be that all of us in journalism work as hard as we can to keep our mission to serve the public at the center of our newsrooms, too.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.
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