Commentary

'LAT' Has Yet To Hire Top Editor, Newspaper's Status Uncertain

In the past few weeks, the Los Angeles Times has hired a variety of journalists, the newspaper has been without an editor in chief for months. An unconfirmed press report that the LATis for sale has added to the uncertainty about its future, and may be interfering with the search.
Patrick Soon-Shiong, the billionaire biotech investor who bought the paper for $500 million in 2018, was said to be weighing an exit plan, The Wall Street Journal reported two weeks ago. Frustrations with losses and the slow pace of digital growth were key reasons to unload the paper, unnamed sources told the WSJ.

With many news publishers reporting a jump in web traffic during the pandemic, it's baffling the LAT wouldn’t see higher growth. Of course, monetizing that traffic has been a challenge for many news outlets that saw a pullback in media spending. When advertisers resumed digital spending, many plowed into search, social media and retailer ad networks.
Soon-Shiong and the LAT denied the WSJ report, but they have yet to announce a new editor in chief. At least two prospective candidates have backed out of consideration, the New York Post's Keith Kelly reported, citing unnamed sources.

Anne Kornblut, the Pulitzer Prize-winning editor whose talents are being wasted as vice president of global curation at Facebook News, and Janice Min, the former executive at The Hollywood Reporter and Us Weekly, withdrew their names from the race. The paper has been without a top editor since Norman Pearlstine left in December.
However, the LAT has continued to hire reporters and editors from other news outlets.

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Laura Wides-Muñoz, executive editor for news practices at ABC News in Washington, is joining the LAT this month as deputy editor of the Washington bureau. The LAT also named Iliana Limón Romero, sports editor at the Orlando Sentinel, as deputy sports editor. In that respect, it's still business as usual at the LAT.

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