Michael Parks, a Pulitzer-Prize-winning international correspondent for The Los Angeles Occasions who went on to turn out to be the highest editor on the paper, one of many nation’s largest metropolitan dailies, died on Jan. eight at a hospital in Pasadena, Calif. He was 78.
The trigger was a coronary heart assault and kidney failure, his son Christopher mentioned.
Mr. Parks reported from around the globe from 1970 to 1995, first for The Baltimore Solar after which for The Los Angeles Occasions. In his time overseas, he chronicled among the most vital geopolitical occasions in fashionable historical past, together with the warfare in Vietnam, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the unraveling of apartheid in South Africa.
Whereas he was in Johannesburg for The Occasions, the white-minority authorities introduced in late 1986 that it was expelling him after he had been documenting the brutal segregationist coverage of apartheid for 2 years. Because the nation lurched violently towards historic change, Mr. Parks was the fifth correspondent that yr to obtain an expulsion order.
The Occasions determined to attraction; the story of the Black majority’s revolt towards white rule was too necessary to not cowl. In early 1987, Mr. Parks and editors from Los Angeles met in Cape City with three authorities ministers to plead their case.
The ministers introduced out bins containing all 242 articles Mr. Parks had written in 1986. Each one was annotated, with every slight towards the white regime duly famous. Little doubt, the ministers mentioned, Mr. Parks had forged South Africa in a unfavorable mild.
And but the ministers couldn’t discover a single error in any of the 242 dispatches. In a uncommon transfer, they reversed the expulsion order and allowed Mr. Parks to remain.
His meticulous reporting was rewarded once more a couple of months later with the 1987 Pulitzer Prize in worldwide reporting for what the Pulitzer committee referred to as his “balanced and complete protection of South Africa.”
“He was a pupil of liberation struggles,” Scott Kraft, who adopted Mr. Parks as The Occasions’s bureau chief in Johannesburg, mentioned in a telephone interview.
Mr. Kraft, now a managing editor at The Occasions, mentioned that because the scholarly Mr. Parks launched him to his sources, he may see that a lot of them, significantly the exiled leaders of the African Nationwide Congress, loved discussing political philosophy and technique with him.
“He had been in different world capitals with civil battle, and he actually understood the philosophical foundation of liberation actions,” Mr. Kraft mentioned.
And one other factor: “He by no means dressed like a swashbuckling correspondent,” Mr. Kraft added. “He at all times wore khakis and a blue blazer in order that nobody may mistake him for a participant.”
Michael Christopher Parks was born on Nov. 17, 1943, in Detroit, the oldest of seven kids of Robert J. and Mary Rosalind (Smith) Parks. His father was a instructor within the Detroit public colleges, his mom a homemaker.
Michael went to the College of Windsor in Ontario, Canada, the place he majored in classical languages and English literature and graduated in 1965. The yr earlier than he graduated, he married Linda Katherine Durocher, a classmate, who turned a librarian. She survives him.
Along with his son Christopher, he’s additionally survived by one other son, Matthew; two brothers, Thomas and James; two sisters, Mary Elizabeth Parks and Mary Constance Parks; and 4 grandchildren. A daughter, Danielle Parks, died of leukemia in 2007.
After faculty, Mr. Parks turned a reporter at The Detroit Information after which labored briefly for the Time-Life Information Service in New York. He helped begin The Suffolk Solar, a newspaper on the East Finish of Lengthy Island, in 1966 and after two years landed a job at The Baltimore Solar as a authorities reporter in Annapolis, Md.
His first abroad project got here in 1970 when The Solar despatched him to Saigon to cowl the ultimate American fight in Vietnam.
He then served as Moscow bureau chief; Center East correspondent, primarily based in Cairo; and Hong Kong bureau chief. In 1979, he opened The Solar’s bureau in Beijing. He was one of many first American reporters to be primarily based there after China and the US established diplomatic relations.
The Los Angeles Occasions employed him from The Solar in 1980 and saved him in Beijing as bureau chief. From there, he served as bureau chief in Johannesburg, Moscow and Jerusalem. He moved to Los Angeles in 1995 to turn out to be deputy international editor, managing the paper’s 27 international correspondents.
After a yr Mr. Parks was promoted to managing editor; in 1997, at 53, he was named the highest editor, overseeing an editorial workers of 1,350 folks and an annual price range of $120 million.
Throughout his tenure, the paper elevated its circulation, expanded its protection areas, received 4 Pulitzers and began to diversify its workers.
“He was a terrific international correspondent himself,” Dean Baquet, the chief editor of The New York Occasions and a former editor of The Los Angeles Occasions, mentioned in an e mail. “And as editor, he preserved The Los Angeles Occasions’s function as a serious voice in worldwide protection.”
But it surely was a tumultuous interval. The Chandler household, which had owned the paper for a century, put it up on the market.
As well as, one of many greatest scandals within the paper’s historical past erupted when The Occasions devoted all the concern of its Oct. 10, 1999, Sunday journal to the opening of Staples Heart. In a quiet profit-sharing deal, the paper had cut up the promoting income from the journal with the middle, the topic of its protection — a flagrant battle of curiosity that undermined the paper’s integrity and outraged the workers.
The writer, Kathryn Downing, took the blame. Mr. Parks mentioned he didn’t know in regards to the profit-sharing deal till after the actual fact. However the debacle occurred on his watch, and a few criticized him for not doing something as soon as he did study in regards to the deal, like publishing an article disclosing it to readers. In a lengthy investigative report by The Occasions in regards to the matter, revealed on Dec. 20, 1999, Mr. Parks mentioned he had “failed” in his job as gatekeeper and expressed his “profound remorse.”
Mr. Parks then started a two-decade second profession on the College of Southern California’s Annenberg Faculty for Communication and Journalism. He taught and served two stints as director of the journalism college, increasing its worldwide reporting applications and its give attention to growing experience in overlaying various communities. He retired from Annenberg in 2020.