Ky. journalist to oversee news operations at Sun

February 02, 1991|By Sandy Banisky

John S. Carroll, the executive vice president and editor of the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader, has been named senior vice president and editor of The Sun and The Evening Sun, Publisher Michael J. Davies announced yesterday.

In his new job, Mr. Carroll will supervise news coverage in both the morning and afternoon papers, which traditionally have operated as independent, competitive staffs. Until now, the only time an executive oversaw the news operations of both papers was between 1942 and 1954.

The newspapers' executives are planning to revamp local news coverage this fall, a move that will include the merger of some morning, afternoon and suburban reporting and editing staffs. The papers will continue to be edited separately.

Mr. Carroll, who will be in Baltimore to meet with the staff Monday, will assume his new job by month's end.

The appointment marks a homecoming for Mr. Carroll, who worked for The Sun from 1966 to 1972 as a local reporter, Vietnam and Middle East correspondent and White House reporter.

"Anyone at the editing level knows John Carroll because he's one of the best in the business," Mr. Davies said. "John's a builder. He has transformed [the Lexington Herald-Leader] into one of the best midsize papers around."

Mr. Carroll worked for the Philadelphia Inquirer as an editor from 1972 to 1979, where his staff won three Pulitzer Prizes. In 1986, his staff in Lexington also won a Pulitzer Prize.

Mr. Carroll, 49, said he has thought about becoming an editor in Baltimore "since 1972, when I left The Sun. I always had a fondness for the paper, and I thought in the back of my mind perhaps some day I would be qualified to be its editor. I hope that time has come."

"I really felt that I learned reporting working for The Sun," Mr. Carroll said from his office in Lexington. "And I revered some of its senior people, such as Price Day," the paper's Pulitzer Prize-winning editor.

Mr. Carroll described The Sun "a place with its own character and traditions." He covered crime, wrote about medicine and reported from City Hall, "covering Mayor [Theodore R.] McKeldin in his last days in office, when he didn't want to do anything but put his feet up and reminisce about the old days, and it was wonderful."

Joining The Sun's city staff in May 1966, after two years in the Army, Mr. Carroll spent 18 months here before leaving to cover the Vietnam War in December 1967.

His first-hand coverage of the U.S. Marines' withdrawal from Khe Sanh in June 1968 caused a furor among military officials, who suspended his correspondent's accreditation 60 days for violating a ground rule prohibiting public discussion of pending troop operations.

His filing of the report for The Sun at first earned him an indefinite revocation of military credentials, but that suspension was later downgraded to six months, and then 60 days, after his fellow correspondents objected and a congressional probe was initiated.

After leaving Vietnam in January 1969, Mr. Carroll spent eight months covering the Middle East for The Sun, then moved to the newspaper's Washington Bureau to cover the White House.

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

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

The Lexington paper has a circulation of 124,000 daily and 157,908 on Sundays. The Sun's circulation is 243,609 daily and 494,112 on Sundays. The Evening Sun's circulation is 166,684. At the Lexington paper, Mr. Carroll's staff won a Pulitzer Prize for a series on University of Kentucky basketball players who allegedly received improper payments and benefits.

Mr. Carroll and his wife, Lee, a teacher and computer software specialist, have five children, aged 16 to 24.

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