The NYTimes Story on Kevin Merida Being Named Top Editor of the Los Angeles Times

From a New York Times story by Katie Robertson headlined “Los Angeles Times Hires Its Next Top Editor: Kevin Merida”:

After a six-month search, The Los Angeles Times announced on Monday that it had selected a seasoned journalist to take the publication deeper into its digital future and strengthen its news coverage: Kevin Merida, who spent more than two decades at The Washington Post before becoming an editor and senior vice president at ESPN.

The appointment of a new executive editor ends a much-talked-about search for the top newsroom job at the West Coast’s leading news organization, a competition that attracted some of the biggest names in journalism and was likened to “The Hunger Games.” Mr. Merida will start next month.

The Times has undergone a revival since it returned to local ownership in 2018 after nearly two decades of business difficulties and staff unrest when it was part of the Tribune newspaper chain. Mr. Merida becomes the paper’s second top editor since Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, a billionaire biotech entrepreneur, and his wife, Michele B. Chan, bought it from Tribune for $500 million….

Mr. Merida succeeds Norman Pearlstine, the veteran editor whom Dr. Soon-Shiong installed to bring stability to The Times….

The Times expanded greatly thanks to Dr. Soon-Shiong’s investment, and it won three Pulitzer Prizes under Mr. Pearlstine — but the paper experienced sharp growing pains as its journalists complained that its leaders had not done enough to address a lack of diversity on its staff and in its news coverage. At the same time, it has struggled to meet the goals it had set for increasing the number of digital subscribers.

Mr. Merida, 64, was the first Black managing editor at The Post, a position he held from 2013 to 2015. During his time in that role, The Post won four Pulitzer Prizes. Last year he received a lifetime achievement award from the National Association of Black Journalists and was elected to the Pulitzer Prize Board in December.

Mr. Merida moved to ESPN in 2015 to lead The Undefeated, a site focused on the intersection of sports, race and culture. Some Black journalists at The Post followed him to ESPN, including Soraya Nadia McDonald, a Pulitzer finalist in criticism last year for her work at The Undefeated….

At the Disney-owned ESPN, Mr. Merida became a close adviser to Jimmy Pitaro, the network’s chairman, and served as the chair of ESPN’s editorial board. He also played integral roles in its newsroom, helping oversee its investigative coverage and the television shows “E:60” and “Outside the Lines,” while also managing its standards team.

Mr. Merida, who was born in Wichita, Kan., grew up in the Washington area, where he still lives. He is married to the author Donna Britt, who has worked as a reporter and columnist at The Washington Post, USA Today and The Detroit Free Press.

He studied journalism at Boston University and started his career as a reporter for The Milwaukee Journal. After a decade at The Dallas Morning News, he joined The Post in 1993 as a congressional reporter.

He covered the 1996 presidential campaign as a national correspondent and the 2000 presidential campaign as a writer of long features for The Post’s Style section. He also put in stints as a magazine columnist and national editor before his 2013 promotion to managing editor for news and features.

Martin Baron, a journalism giant who became The Post’s executive editor in 2013, departed as the paper’s executive editor in February. The Post is expected to announce Mr. Baron’s successor soon….

The long search for a new top editor was led by Karen Danziger of the executive recruitment firm Koller Search Partners. In a city centered on entertainment, chatter about the big newsroom job nudged aside the usual talk of streaming and stars. Los Angeles magazine likened the competition to “The Hunger Games” in a February article that called Mr. Merida an “out-of-towner with class” and gave him 2 to 1 odds on landing the job.

Internal candidates included a managing editor, Kimi Yoshino; the editorial page editor Sewell Chan; and the deputy managing editor for entertainment, audio and strategy, Julia Turner.

Company executives also spoke with Janice Min, a former editor of The Hollywood Reporter; Sally Buzbee, the top editor of The Associated Press; Anne Kornblut, who leads Facebook’s journalism initiatives; and two editors at The New York Times, Carolyn Ryan and Marc Lacey….

Katie Robertson is a media reporter. She previously worked as an editor and reporter at Bloomberg and News Corporation Australia.

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