Sun editor reportedly to edit Los Angeles Times; Carroll would move after Tribune takes Times Mirror helm; Executive suite


John S. Carroll, editor of The Sun, will be named editor of the Los Angeles Times, according to published reports and newsroom sources.

Carroll, 58, will replace Times editor Michael Parks, after Chicago-based Tribune Co. officially takes control of Times Mirror Co., the parent of The Sun, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and other papers.

In addition, John Puerner, publisher of the Tribune Co.-owned Orlando Sentinel, will become publisher of the Times, replacing Kathryn M. Downing, according to the reports.

Puerner, 49, could not be reached for comment. Downing and Parks did not return phone calls.

"There is really nothing to comment on," said Katherine Sopranos, a spokeswoman at Tribune Co., the parent of the Chicago Tribune. "It is premature to discuss. We are currently evaluating Times Mirror senior management during the merger process, but beyond that, it is really premature."

Carroll, too, was unwilling to discuss the matter, saying he could not "confirm anything."

But, a senior newsroom editor who attended a meeting in Carroll's office yesterday, said: "He was offered it. He is taking it. He was unclear when it will take effect."

The changes at The Sun and the Los Angeles Times come on the heels of Tribune's March 13 agreement to acquire Times Mirror for $8 billion. Tribune officially cannot make executive staff changes until it gains control of the company. To do that, it must complete its tender offer for outstanding shares of Times Mirror stock, which is expected Monday. Change of control should follow shortly thereafter, and the acquisition is expected to be completed in the third quarter with shareholder approval.

Carroll started his career as a staff reporter at the Journal-Bulletin in Providence, R.I., in June 1963. After a two-year stint in the U.S. Army, he became a local reporter at The Sun in May 1966, eventually working as the paper's Vietnam War correspondent, Middle East correspondent and White House correspondent.

He was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University from 1971 to 1972 and joined the Philadelphia Inquirer as night city editor in December 1972, rising to metropolitan editor in June 1974.

In August 1979, he became editor of the morning Lexington Herald and Sunday Herald-Leader in Kentucky, which later merged into the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Carroll returned to Baltimore in March 1991 as senior vice president and editor of The Sun and The Evening Sun, becoming the first executive to oversee the competitive news operations of both papers since 1954.

A year later, however, he presided over the merger of the staffs of The Sun and The Evening Sun. In September 1995, The Evening Sun was closed and a new, redesigned morning paper was introduced.

Under Carroll, The Sun won two Pulitzer Prizes -- its first in 12 years. In 1997, features writer Lisa Pollak won a Pulitzer for her moving story of a Major League Baseball umpire who lost a son to a rare genetic disease and whose second son also had the disease.

A year later, reporters Gary Cohn and Will Englund won a Pulitzer for their investigative reporting on the scrapping of old ships and the hazards posed to workers and the environment.

In 1999, Carroll received the George Beveridge Editor of the Year Award from the National Press Foundation for his work at the newspaper. And later last year, The Sun was named one of the top 10 papers in America by the Columbia Journalism Review.

"I think he is one of the very best editors and newspaper men in the country," said Gene Roberts, Carroll's former boss at the Philadelphia Inquirer who went on to become managing editor at the New York Times.

"He has a firm set of values, he does not blow with the wind or go from fad to fad and fashion to fashion," said Roberts, now professor of journalism at the University of Maryland.

Jonathan Neumann, who worked for Carroll as a reporter at the Inquirer in 1978 and won a Pulitzer Prize under his direction, said Carroll is a "rare find in journalism."

"He is an old-fashioned editor in the best sense of the word, is interested in getting the story, being honest and doing the right thing," Neumann said. "John has always stayed focused on doing good journalism."

It is unclear who will replace Carroll when he leaves. Michael E. Waller, publisher of The Sun, was traveling and could not be reached for comment.

When asked if he wanted the job, William K. Marimow, the newsroom's No. 2 executive said, "I am committed to The Sun. My intention is to be here for a long, long time to come."

Many people had expected top-level changes at both the Times, which has a daily circulation of 1.1 million, and The Sun, which has a daily circulation of about 328,000.

Parks and Downing were under pressure after revelations that the Times split profits with the Staples Center, the new arena in downtown Los Angeles, which was the subject of numerous stories in its Sunday magazine.

Many believe that Carroll can revive the Times' flagging morale.

Roy Peter Clark, senior scholar at the Poynter Institute, a school for journalists in St. Petersburg, Fla., said the Times has been "choking on the poisons of the changes and controversies ... under the last regime."

"The staff has got a bad cold and it needs some chicken soup," Clark said. "John can go in and provide the nourishment that they need."

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