Remembering John Carroll, a superb journalist and one of our generous supporters


We lost one of the finest journalists of our time — and a generous supporter of the Georgia Civil Rights Cold Cases Project — when John Carroll passed away in Lexington, Kentucky, on June 14. A vigorous, healthy man, John was diagnosed in January with Creutzfeldt-Jakob, a rare disease that rapidly triggers progressive dementia. He was 73.

John, who developed his newspaper bug from his father, Wallace Carroll of The New York Times and the Winston-Salem Journal, had come out of The Philadelphia Inquirer newsroom to become top editor of the Lexington Herald-Leader, then the Baltimore Sun, then The Los Angeles Times. He was a tough journalist, as you will read below, but as graceful and gracious as anyone I’ve known. He inspired his reporters and editors to do more, to reach higher, to excel. His strong journalistic values were tested time and again. He was willing to adapt to the ever-changing demands on newsrooms, but he believed deeply in core journalistic principles and proved willing to quit before sacrificing his integrity.

The first week we launched this Georgia Civil Rights Cold Cases Project website ( in early January 2015, John jumped in with a contribution. That was a lovely surprise; I had mentioned the project to John and told him about the wonderful work our students were doing, but only in passing when we crossed paths at an editors’ conference in Chicago last fall. His gift came unsolicited by anything other than the blue button on our website seeking donations.

Here are some tributes to this great man:

Nieman Reports at Harvard

The Washington Post

The New York Times


Lexington Herald-Leader

Our prayers are with John’s wife, Lee and his children. The good news is that news organizations across the globe are populated by journalists who learned from John and who carry his legacy forward.

— Hank Klibanoff