Los Angeles Times building
The old Los Angeles Times building in downtown Los Angeles. Photo by John Schreiber.

Los Angeles Times Executive Editor Norman Pearlstine says he will soon step down and the paper is launching a search for a new top editor who can chart a digital future and unite a newsroom that has been torn by controversies, The Times reported Tuesday.

Pearlstine, who celebrated his 78th birthday over the weekend, made the announcement Monday morning during a meeting with top editors and in a note to staff members, the newspaper reported.

“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.”

The search for a respected journalist to lead one of the country’s largest newspapers is expected to take several months, according to the company. Pearlstine said he agreed to stay on until Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong identifies a successor who can amplify the journalism produced by the 542-person newsroom, push further into video storytelling and other digital distribution platforms to attract more digital subscribers and return the paper to profitability.

In his nearly two and a half years at the top, Pearlstine sought to stabilize a newsroom that had been battered by years of layoffs, cost-cutting and mismanagement under its former owner, Tribune Publishing, which also called itself Tronc. Pearlstine led a dramatic hiring spree, replenishing the paper’s beleaguered ranks, recruiting top editors and working to improve technology used to generate a larger audience for its journalism, The Times reported.

During his tenure, The Times’ journalism became stronger, in part, due to the increased resources from the Soon-Shiong family, according to The Times. The paper negotiated its first-ever contract with the union representing newsroom employees. And earlier this year, journalists with The Times were finalists in five Pulitzer Prize categories, and two were awarded the awards. Since 2018, the paper has nearly doubled its digital-only customers to 249,362 subscribers as of September.

Before joining The Times, Pearlstine had a 40-plus-year career in the upper echelons of journalism. He is a former top editor of Time Inc., the Wall Street Journal and Forbes, and also was a senior executive at Bloomberg News.

In a statement, Soon-Shiong and his wife said: “We’re extremely grateful to Norm. He came out of retirement to work with us, as new owners of the Los Angeles Times, and helped us make great progress in rebuilding and revitalizing the paper over the past two and a half years.”

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