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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Carroll Ankles

So John Carroll, the editor of the Los Angeles Times, has resigned. Carroll's retirement has long been expected, contrary to Drudge's take ("LA TIMES EDITOR SUDDENLY QUITS"). But I thought I'd point out that his resignation just happens to come days after he publicly and specifically--and correctly, in my view--called his ultimate boss, Tribune Co. CEO Dennis FitzSimons, untrustworthy to a New York Times reporter:

One example of the level of concern about government and private efforts to unmask sources is a new ethics policy at The Los Angeles Times, to be issued this week, which instructs journalists to "never enter into any company computer unnamed sources."

John S. Carroll, the paper's editor, said the policy was motivated by the concern that prosecutors could unmask sources by issuing subpoenas to the newspaper's technology support staff, or even the chief executive of the Tribune Company, which owns The Los Angeles Times. "They don't operate by the same rules as we do" in the newsroom, Mr. Carroll said.

My guess is that Carroll spoke immoderately because he knew he was getting the hell out of Dodge. But you never know: Maybe Dennis read that quote and offered him a generous and urgent retirement package.

He's succeeded by managing editor Dean Baquet, which is good news for the Times. The last executive opening at the Times, created after publisher John Puerner took a dive, was filled by a Chicago loyalist. Baquet is no such thing, which tends to indicate that he will not accede readily to the lay-offs and budget cuts that the Tribune Tower is anxious for, or will be anxious for if the Times' circulation continues to crash. It will be interesting to see how Baquet's ascendancy affects the cooperation--read synergy--that Tribune Co. suits are trying to impose on all of the Tribune papers, by forcing the Tribune's "Ask Amy" column, for instance, into the L.A. Times with a crowbar. Baquet and Chicago Tribune editor Ann Marie Lipinski, who once shared a Pulitzer Prize while they were both Tribune reporters, are said to have a frosty relationship. Word at the Tribune was that they're not on speaking terms.