Los Angeles Times Executive Editor Norman Pearlstine announced Monday that he plans to step down from the position and that the paper would soon launch a search for a new top editor.
Pearlstine, 78, made the announcement during a meeting with top editors, followed by a note sent to staff.
“It has been an honor to serve as your executive editor since Patrick and Michele Soon-Shiong acquired the Los Angeles Times in June of 2018,” Pearlstine wrote. “Now, we have agreed that it’s time to begin an open search for my successor.”
Pearlstine said Soon-Shiong “asked me to remain as executive editor during the search and to work with him on it. I have also accepted his offer to continue as an advisor after my successor is named.”
During his two years as executive editor, Pearlstine steadied a newsroom that had undergone layoffs, cost-cutting and other issues under former owner Tribune Publishing, which called itself Tronc. He led a spate of new hires and worked to improve technology used to generate a larger online audience, according to The Times.
However, during the past six months, the newsroom was shaken by staff discontent over a lack of staff diversity and pressure to improve coverage of communities of color.
The Times last month published “Our Reckoning With Racism,” which discussed historical racism at the paper, and the promise to have the staff reflect the community it covers.
“We are committed to change, both because it is just and because it is mission-critical for our business,” Soon-Shiong wrote in a letter to readers. “Only a diverse newsroom can accurately tell this city’s stories. Only a newspaper that holds power to account and uncovers injustice can truly succeed.”
Pearlstine — a former top editor of Time Inc., the Wall Street Journal and Forbes and senior executive at Bloomberg News — was hired by Soon-Shiong shortly after the billionaire businessman agreed to buy the Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune two years ago.
In his 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.”