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LA Times Top Editor Search in ‘Advanced Rounds of Interviews,’ Company President Says

“We’re making progress. I think we’re getting close,” Chris Argentieri, tells staff

The Los Angeles Times has not hired its next top editor yet, but the search has progressed to “advanced rounds of interviews” with internal and external candidates, Chris Argentieri, the Times’ president, said at an all-staff meeting on Thursday.

“I can understand why some may feel that it’s been a slow process, a drawn-out process. I don’t really view it that way,” Argentieri said, according to a recording of the meeting obtained by TheWrap. “I don’t think our owners view it as a rush. We want to get it right. I think everybody benefits from that.”

The Times’ owner, Patrick Soon-Shiong, did not speak at the meeting.

Argentieri’s mention of internal candidates may ruffle some feathers within the paper, given that a group of nearly a dozen editors from across the newsroom made a request to HR last year that none of the current masthead editors be hired as the paper’s next top editor. The L.A. Times Guild also sent a letter in October to Soon-Shiong and his wife Michele Chan, urging them to look for candidates “outside the newsroom.”

At the Thursday meeting, Argentieri also sought to shut down speculation about potential candidates that have circulated in media reports by saying they were “far from being rooted in anything approaching reality.”

“A number of esteemed journalism organizations that have reported on names and candidates and top candidates and people withdrawing and all of those things, it’s been quite far from being rooted in anything approaching reality. But that is what it is,” he said. “We’re making progress. I think we’re getting close. We will obviously let everybody know as soon as the decisions been made, but it has not at this point.”

The paper has not had a top editor since mid-December when former executive editor Norman Pearlstine stepped down. One of the leading candidates includes ESPN’s Kevin Merida, who has had meetings with the Soon-Shiong family, as TheWrap previously reported.