John S. Carroll, former editor of the Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun and Lexington Herald-Leader, accepted the William Allen White Foundation’s national citation on Friday. Some selected quotes from his speech:
“This is my first visit to the University of Kansas, but I feel like the University of Kansas has visited me many times over my career.”
— On how he worked with many people from KU, particularly copy editors who trained under former KU editing professor John Bremner.
“Public service, noble as it might sound, was fine to them only as far as it didn’t cost the shareholders anything.”
— In reference to many newspapers’ new corporate ownership.
“When pressured to slant a story or not to print a story, we owe it to our boss, the citizen, to say no.”
— On how journalists should remember for whom they ultimately work.
“If ethical clarity were a foot race, the doctors would have lapped journalists many, many times by now.”
— Most newspapers, he said, didn’t start writing down their code of ethics until the 1970s.
“The idea that citizen journalism would provide a substitute for professional journalism has proven to be a falsehood.”
— That’s not to say, he added, that citizen journalism doesn’t contribute to the public good.
“We’ve got to be able to say what journalism is, and say that it’s not chasing drug-addicted movie stars.”
— On why journalists need a clear ideology.
“Somebody who gets sued for libel as much as I do has to protect the First Amendment.”
— Responding to a questioner who pointed out he has been a frequent defender of free speech.