Kevin Merida’s Biggest Challenge? Getting LA Times Staff to ‘Feel Great’ About Their Work (Video)

TheGrill 2021: L.A. Olympic Organizing Committee head Casey Wasserman — a lifelong reader — shares his advice for the Times’ new executive editor

Kevin Merida, the recently appointed executive editor of the L.A. Times, says he’s focusing his efforts inside the newsroom.

“For me, the challenge first is getting the motivation, getting people excited,” Merida told TheWrap’s founder and CEO Sharon Waxman during “The State of the Industry and Beyond” panel The Wrap’s Grill 2021.

“I think culture and who you work with every day is important,” he added. “You want people to feel great about your work. I want to get all of the ideas … to make use of all of the 100% of the talent we have.”

Talent executive Casey Wasserman, a lifelong reader of the times, advised Merida to extend his vision outside the newsroom as well.

“What made the L.A. Times great was it was an integrated part of this community. And when ownership shifted away from the Chandlers, it lost that,” Wasserman said, referring to the family that publishing family that guided the paper for a century through the 1980s before a slew of ownership changes.

“LA is a town that — as you will learn — is unique,” he told Merida, an East Coast transplant. “For the size of the city to have one newspaper, it has to be part of the fabric or the community. I’m not saying that should alter how it covers the community, but it has to be a part of the community. And I think that’s something that was lost, that made the paper special and what made people care.

“The philanthropic efforts of the Chandlers — there was so much that happened in this community because of and from the LA times existence and I think the papers have lost a little bit of that local connection,” Wasserman concluded.

If there’s someone who knows about connecting to the LA community, it’s Wasserman; he’s the president of the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee that successfully won the bid for the 2028 Games.

Merida and Wasserman also talked about innovation in their respective fields.

Merida said he’s looking forward to “trying new things,” including podcasts and more.

Wasserman discussed how “radically” different the coronavirus pandemic has made the sports and entertainment industries — but noted he believes there will be an even greater demand for in-person experiences going forward.

To watch the full panel and all Grill content here.

For over a decade, TheWrap’s Grill event series has led the conversation on the convergence between entertainment, media and technology, bringing together newsmakers to debate the challenges and opportunities facing content in the digital age. Tailored to C-Suite and high-level attendees, TheGrill presented by WrapPRO, delivers a unique series of curated discussions, industry panels and virtual networking activations that explore the ever-changing media landscape. View the full panel and all Grill content here: