UPDATED, 11:42 AM: Two more top editors have resigned from the Los Angeles Times ahead of a new round of planned layoffs. Managing Editors Sara Yasin and Shani O. Hilton have exited less than two weeks after executive editor Kevin Merida resigned from the paper.
The moves come as Times journalists on Friday staged the first walkout in the paper’s 142-year history.
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Yasin’s resignation note was posted on social media today (see it below), and Hilton left last week. The latter’s Times profile page lists her as “former managing editor,” but Yasin’s profile has not been updated. Hilton joined The Times as a deputy managing editor in 2019, and Yasin arrived in 2022.
Here is Yasin’s resignation post; see the Merida exit story below.
PREVIOUSLY, January 9: Kevin Merida said on Tuesday that he was stepping down as executive editor of the Los Angeles Times, after less than three years in the job.
He wrote in a memo to staffers, “Today, with a heavy heart, I announce that I am leaving The Times. I made the decision, in consultation with Patrick, after considerable soul-searching about my career at this stage and how best to be of value to the profession I love.”
Merida was named executive editor in May, 2021, having previously served as ESPN senior vice president and editor in chief of the Undefeated.
The Times, owned by Patrick and Michele Soon-Shiong, has endured years of turmoil, as it has faced the challenge of transitioning to digital, with its subscriber base far behind The New York Times and The Washington Post.
Last year, Merida presided over a round of layoffs of about 13% of the newsroom staff, amid a widespread downturn in the advertising sector. The Post, which is owned by Jeff Bezos, itself announced buyouts last year to eliminate about 240 jobs, as the publisher said that they had to “adjust our cost structure now.”
Merida’s departure likely will trigger more consternation over Soon-Shiong’s plans for the Times, as staffers worry that he is growing increasingly impatient over the losses endured by the media outlet.
In a separate memo, Soon-Shiong wrote, “Our commitment to the L.A. Times and its mission has not wavered since the incetion of our acquisition. However, given the persistent challenges we face, it is now imperative that we all work together to build a sustainable business that allows for growth and innovation of the L.A. Times and L.A. Times Studios in order to achieve our vision.” He noted that during Merida’s tenure, the Times won three Pulitzer Prizes.
He said that they were conducting an internal and external search for a successor, and that Julia Turner, Sara Yasin, Scott Kraft and Shani Hilton would be the leadership team overseeing the newsroom in the interim. Terry Tang will continue to lead the opinion section.
Merida, a longtime veteran of the Post, also reportedly had had discussions to succeed Martin Baron as executive editor there. When he took the Times job, it was seen as a boost for the publication, given his experience in newsroom management and, in particular, his digital venture with Undefeated.
In his memo to staffers, Merida wrote, “I am proud of what we accomplished together during my tenure here, and grateful to Patrick and the Soon-Shiong family for the opportunity to help transform The Times into a modern, innovative news media company for a new generation of consumers. We’ve made tremendous progress toward that goal, and I am hopeful that progress will continue.”
Merida’s complete memo to staffers is below:
It has been an honor being executive editor of the Los Angeles Times for the last two-and-a-half years. Ours is a fierce, resilient, superbly talented newsroom, and I am proud to have belonged to it.
Today, with a heavy heart, I announce that I am leaving The Times. I made the decision, in consultation with Patrick, after considerable soul-searching about my career at this stage and how best to be of value to the profession I love.
I am proud of what we accomplished together during my tenure here, and grateful to Patrick and the Soon-Shiong family for the opportunity to help transform The Times into a modern, innovative news media company for a new generation of consumers. We’ve made tremendous progress toward that goal, and I am hopeful that progress will continue.
I am happy that I came to L.A. for this exciting challenge during the Covid summer of 2021, and have no regrets. I still believe in The Times and its potential.
My last day will be Friday. There will be more to come soon about newsroom leadership going forward. In the meantime, I’ll just say: Thank you. Working with all of you has been one of the signature experiences of my career.
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