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

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The newspaper industry has lost a lot in recent years, and, yesterday, it lost a champion. John Carroll has died.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOHN CARROLL: In a free society, there is no mightier sword than the written word. The sword is still there. The question is whether we are willing to wield it.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

John Carroll led the Baltimore Sun and worked as an editor for the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Lexington Herald-Leader in Kentucky. When Carroll was editor of the Los Angeles Times, it won 13 Pulitzer Prizes.

GREENE: He took over the LA Times when it faced controversy over a business deal that raised ethical questions. Carroll was tasked with bringing back the Times' mojo. That's how Dean Baquet put it. Carroll hired Baquet as managing editor, and Baquet went on to run The New York Times.

DEAN BAQUET: John grew up in the generation of Ben Bradley and all these guys who were sort of big, robust, self-absorbed even narcissistic figures. He was not. He was not. He was a sweet man.

INSKEEP: That sweetness may have been lost in the people his reporters covered. Carroll emphasized investigative reporting. In one of the biggest controversies of his time as editor, Carroll defended the paper's reporting of accusations of sexual misconduct against Arnold Schwarzenegger just days before he was on the ballot for governor of California.

GREENE: In that case, as in many others, Carroll stayed involved in how individual stories were being told. Dean Baquet says that's becoming remarkable for someone working in management at a newspaper.

BAQUET: He was just a guy who loved stories. It's heartbreaking to say this, but I think there are fewer and fewer editors who just love stories.

INSKEEP: John Carroll oversaw investigations in hospitals, fatal airplane crashes and the approval of unsafe drugs. In 2004, the paper won five Pulitzer Prizes for such reporting - five in just a single year. A year later, John Carroll resigned from the LA Times, and he was open about why.

GREENE: Carroll was clashing with the corporate owners of the Times at the Tribune Company who pressured him to make big cuts in the newsroom. Soon after resigning, John Carroll spoke to NPR's David Folkenflik.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

CARROLL: I have to say, the job satisfaction and wear and tear on the soul surrounded these issues of resources and constant cost-cutting.

GREENE: John Carroll was 73 when he died yesterday, and that graceful voice of his will always stay with me. I worked for him at the Baltimore Sun. The first time I walked into his office as a kid barely out of college, he showed me the same respect he would show a veteran reporter. That was just his way. All he needed to know was that you wanted to be in his newsroom and tell important stories. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.