John S. Carroll, the preeminent newspaper editor of his generation, died June 14 of a rare brain disorder. He was 73. Better known within his profession than to the public, Carroll loved big, ambitious exposés and the prizes that followed. After working as a reporter in Providence, R.I., and Baltimore, Carroll turned to editing, first at the Philadelphia Inquirer and then as top editor at the Lexington Herald-Leader in Kentucky, the Baltimore Sun and the Los Angeles Times, which won 13 Pulitzers in his five years there.
Carroll was a preternatural listener who said he got his best ideas from his reporters and his readers. He was also a purist who believed journalists were obliged only to serve readers. “How long has it been since an editor was so rash as to cite public service in justifying a budget?” he asked shortly after quitting the Times rather than agree to staff cuts he thought would harm the paper. “You might as well ask to be branded with a scarlet N for naive.”
This appears in the June 29, 2015 issue of TIME.