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Looking back on John Carroll's tenure at The LAT

Posted: June 17, 2015 | Tags: journalism

John Carroll, one of the most influential newspaper editors of the last 40 years, who died earlier this week, talked to Executive Editor Charles Lewis a few years ago about the rise and fall of The Los Angeles Times. 

He recalled how hard the economic climate was in the early 2000s, even before the recession: "Over time we did a lot of cutting. And most of the cutting at first was not in the newsroom," he recalled. "But the business side was really cut badly. And people don’t realize how devastating it was. When you look back on all the budget slashing that went on over those five years, it’s impossible to put your finger on what it was that caused the circulation of The LA Times to plummet, more than the industry was generally going down. But the LA Times was going down faster. But my belief is not that it was the newsroom cuts; it was the business side cuts ... things like promotion were almost eliminated."

He also reminisced about the importance of local coverage in that wide-ranging interview with Lewis: "People don’t appreciate what they do for the nation," he said to Lewis.  "I mean, they are not just operating in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, for Pottstown. They are screening candidates that might be president of the United States some day. If the local paper doesn’t screen them carefully, you know ... The LA Times fell down on Nixon. Nixon, in the late '40s and early '50s, was every bit as creepy as the Watergate Nixon. He was doing the same stuff."

To watch the videos and learn more about Carroll's background — as a reporter in Vietnam, an editor in Philadelphia, Lexington, Kentucky and Los Angeles — go to the Investigating Power website.

At the time of Carroll's death, he was serving on the board for the News Literacy Project, a national education program that pairs veteran journalists with middle and high school students to increase awareness about media literacy. He also was on the Advisory Board of the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University and the Journalism Advisory Board of ProPublica.


 

 




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