The Los Angeles Times is already making editorial moves under the ownership of Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong.
Norman Pearlstine has been named executive director of the paper, making him the fourth such editor there in under a year. He replaces Jim Kirk, who was put in place in January by L.A. Times’ former parent Tronc, previously known as Tribune Co. According to a report in The Times, Kirk chose to leave the paper after being offered a lesser role.
It’s possible that the move came as a surprise to Kirk, as he was retweeting L.A. Times content this morning. Notably, there was no mention of Soon-Shiong taking control of the paper, unlike many other current staffers who have been celebrating #freedom with the sale’s closing.
A representative of the L.A. Times could not be immediately reached for comment.
Addressing the newsroom around noon, Soon-Shiong positioned the quick replacement of Kirk as an effort to move on. “Let’s put the Tronc in the Trunk and be done,” L.A. Times’ national correspondent Matt Pearce quoted the new owner as saying, to resounding applause, in a Twitter post.
Pearlstine, who acted as an adviser to Soon-Shiong during the sale process is a longtime media editor. He spent a decade at The Wall Street Journal between the eighties and Nineties, becoming executive editor, and then went on to be editor in chief of Time for 11 years. Then came five years at Bloomberg in various executive editorial roles and another stint at Time, where he retired as Vice Chairman last year.
“Not only does he have amazing experience with the full knowledge of how a newsroom runs, but he’s amazingly modern and forward-looking,” Soon-Shiong said to the L.A. Times.
Soon-Shiong clearly wanted a veteran media type for the role. The L.A. Times said before tapping Pearlstine, Soon-Shiong approached Dean Baquet, executive editor of The New York Times, and Marty Baron, executive editor of The Washington Post, about taking on the job. Both, obviously, declined.
A spokesman for Baquet declined to comment and Baron could not reached.
Still, in speaking with his new paper, Pearlstine admitted that at 75 years old, he’s already thinking of finding the right successor to take over in a couple of years, should Baquet or Baron change their minds.
In the meantime, Pearlstine and Soon-Shiong told the newsroom that they want to compete with The Times and The Post as national news organizations, according to Twitter posts by Pearce, who wrote Pearlstine said issues like immigration, homelessness, the environment and business, are all areas “we ought to excel at.”
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