Norman Pearlstine, Top Editor of Los Angeles Times, Takes Adviser Role

Norman Pearlstine, the executive editor of The Los Angeles Times, has moved into a senior adviser role while the search for his successor continues, the paper’s owner said in an email to the staff on Monday.

In the email, which was obtained by The New York Times, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, the owner and executive chairman, said that Mr. Pearlstine, 78, would report to him in the new role and would help select the journalist who will follow him as executive editor.

Two managing editors, Scott Kraft and Kimi Yoshino, will take over the day-to-day running of the newsroom. They will report to Dr. Soon-Shiong, as will the head of the editorial pages, Sewell Chan.

“We cannot thank Norm enough for his contributions to The L.A. Times,” Dr. Soon-Shiong wrote in the memo to the staff. “As we became the new owners and needed to rapidly and thoughtfully revive this great American newspaper, Norm’s experience as a journalist and media executive proved invaluable.” He added that he would update staff when “the right candidate” was found.

Mr. Pearlstine came out of retirement in 2018 to helm The Los Angeles Times after it was bought for $500 million by Dr. Soon-Shiong and his wife, Michelle B. Chan, from Tribune Publishing (then known as Tronc). The paper at the time was reeling after a rocky period of leadership changes and staff cuts, and the newsroom cheered the new direction.

Dr. Soon-Shiong, a Los Angeles billionaire who made his fortune as a medical-industry entrepreneur, hoped to bring stability to the newsroom with the appointment of Mr. Pearlstine, a veteran journalist and media executive who had held top jobs at Time Inc., Bloomberg, The Wall Street Journal and Forbes.

His latest post did not come without its own challenges, as The Los Angeles Times grappled with a racial reckoning inside its newsroom.

In a Sept. 21 article, The Los Angeles Times itself reported on missteps by the paper’s leaders and a lack of internal confidence in Mr. Pearlstine. The article noted “ethical lapses” and “bullying behavior” among some of the paper’s editors, as well as “other failures of management.”

On Oct. 5, Mr. Pearlstine announced that he was stepping down as top editor, but, at the request of Dr. Soon-Shiong, would stay on until his successor was named.

In an email to staff on Monday, Mr. Pearlstine said his goal during his tenure was “to put a team in place that could assure The Times’s revival.”

“Although work on finding my successor has just begun, I believe my work is done,” the editor wrote in the email, which was obtained by The New York Times. “There are several people on staff who are ready to succeed me and several talented editors from elsewhere have also asked to be considered.”

Mr. Pearlstine acknowledged “unforeseen challenges,” but said “the memorable journalism” had made his time at the paper worthwhile.

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