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LA Times executive editor Norman Pearlstine steps down

Los Angeles Times Executive Editor Norman Pearlstine has stepped down after two and a half years heading a newspaper roiled by management shakeups, a drop in revenue and questions about its commitment to newsroom diversity.

Pearlstine announced in October that he planned to retire but would stay on to help with the search for a new top editor.

The Times’ owner and executive chairman Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong wrote Monday in a note to staff that Pearlstine was no longer overseeing the newsroom and had shifted to an advisory role, the newspaper reported.

The paper recently hired a search firm to manage the process to find a new executive editor, which is expected to take several months, the Times said.

Two veteran managers will oversee the newsroom while the search is underway.

“Times Managing Editors Scott Kraft and Kimi Yoshino will now be responsible for the day-to-day operation of the newsroom, reporting to me,” Soon-Shiong wrote in the note. “Sewell Chan, editor of the Editorial Pages, will also report to me.”

Pearlstine previously held top editing jobs with Time Inc., the Wall Street Journal and Forbes magazine. He also was a senior executive at Bloomberg News.

Pearlstine, 78, helped rebuild the Times after years of cost-cutting, layoffs and mismanagement under its previous owner, Tribune Publishing, and led a hiring spree that added dozens of journalists.

But during much of 2020, the paper faced a series of controversies as journalists worked from home to cover major events — including the COVID-19 pandemic and protests sparked by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Staff members took leadership to task over the Times’ historic neglect in covering communities of color and a failure to better diversify staff during the hiring surge, the paper said.

In a Sept. 27 letter to readers, Patrick Soon-Shiong said the Times “has ignored large swaths of the city and its diverse population, or covered them in one-dimensional, sometimes racist ways.”

In an October note to staff, Pearlstine wrote that he was “proud of what we have accomplished. I also recognize it’s the right time to find a successor — an editor who embodies the qualities needed to continue the Times’ revival.”


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