The LA Times announced that their new executive editor will be ESPN’s Kevin Merida. The search took five months, and he’s replacing Norm Pearlstine. The paper said Merida is tasked with “transforming the storied 139-year-old newspaper into a digital powerhouse that thrives for decades to come.” He will be the third person of color hired to oversee the newsroom at the Times.
At ESPN, Merida was a senior vice president and the founding editor and editor in chief of “The Undefeated,” a series on the intersection of sports, race, and culture. He also spent two decades at the Washington Post.
USC Annenberg journalism professor Christina Bellantoni says Merida’s deep and varied experience in journalism is a real asset.
“Having someone that’s going to come in and be a real newspaper person with a vision to be able to lead staffs large and small, I think is going to be really beneficial.”
Bellantoni, who is a former assistant managing editor of the Times, says there is a lot of room for improvement in management at the paper. One of Pearlstine’s weaknesses was not knowing the newsroom as well as he could have, and she says Merida should learn from that mistake.
“He’s going to really have to get to know people well, from the smallest level intern to the most entrenched senior-level reporters and editors.”
Bellantoni says the LA Times has a lot of work to do if it wants to compete with the New York Times’ online presence, but she’s optimistic that Merida can make a big difference.