Time magazine's Los Angeles bureau chief, Terry McCarthy, has a piece in the current issue on John Carroll and the Times under the headline "Left-Coast Makeover." It profiles Carroll as an editor who likes to personally line edit major projects, dismisses the paper's circulation losses, and includes praise from an unlikely source:
Even Richard Riordan, the former Los Angeles mayor who had long complained of the paper's liberal bias, is a convert, won over by such coverage as the paper's evenhanded reporting on racial tensions at a hospital in South Los Angeles. "I think Carroll has done a sensational job," says Riordan, whose plans to set up a rival paper are now consigned to the back burner...
Investigative reporting is Carroll's passion, and with 40 years of experience in newspapers and a nine-year stint on the Pulitzer Prize Board, he has a fine-tuned instinct for spotting prizewinning potential — stories that he calls bell ringers. These, he says, are pieces that require in-depth reporting, have universal resonance and "tell me something I didn't know." His staffs won three Pulitzers while he was editor in Lexington and Baltimore, and since arriving at the Times, Carroll has helped line edit four stories that won Pulitzers — including an expose of unsafe prescription drugs, whose opening paragraphs he reworked "at least a dozen times."
Some Times staff members charge that Carroll "edits for prizes" and complain that reporters who are not on the A-list have their work ignored. A few have left, including Robin Wright, a star foreign-affairs reporter, but the level of dissent is low. "There is a quality about him that makes you want to do your best work," says Steve Lopez, a former TIME writer who does a popular thrice-weekly column on Los Angeles.
The piece concludes that Carroll's goal is a total makeover of the paper he found when he arrived in 2000.