The Los Angeles Times has named Kevin Merida, the editor of ESPN’s The Undefeated, as its next top editor.
“I’m thrilled to be joining the Los Angeles Times. I’m going to do everything I can to make this the greatest media outlet for the people of California, of L.A. — and beyond. I see nothing but opportunity. I think this can be the most innovative media company in the country,” said Merida in an announcement from the company.
According to a press release, he will relocate from Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles and begin his new role in June.
“We are elated to welcome Kevin to the Los Angeles Times,” Times’ owners Patrick and Michele Soon-Shiong said in their own statement. “Kevin possesses a clear understanding of the rigor necessary for independent journalism and how to translate that journalism to multiple platforms. He also shares our passion for the unique opportunity we have to build the L.A. Times into a media enterprise with a distinct West Coast point of view.”
Before joining ESPN in 2015 as a senior vice president and the editor of The Undefeated, Merida spent 22 years at The Washington Post, where he began as a congressional correspondent and eventually became the paper’s managing editor for news and features. As managing editor, Merida helped lead the Post’s digital transformation and oversaw sections like National, Foreign, Metro, Business, Sports, Investigations, Style, Travel, Food and the Post’s magazine.
In February, when TheWrap previously reported that Merida was the leading contender for the executive editor position, newsroom advocates for Merida pointed to the breadth of his editorial experience, his combination of print and digital chops and his reputation and affinity for Los Angeles. (Merida also has two children who live in Los Angeles and work in entertainment.)
The search for a top editor began in December when former executive editor Norman Pearlstine stepped down after a tumultuous tenure that included accusations of verbal abuse and ethical impropriety. Newsroom staff had also signaled to Times ownership that they had lost faith in Pearlstine and masthead editors, telling Times owner Patrick Soon-Shiong in a letter last February that the masthead leadership team was “problematic and disappointing” and not “qualified to take The Times to the next level.”
Leading the Times, Merida will be tasked with pushing forward with the paper’s digital transformation as it focuses on boosting its lackluster digital subscription numbers, which have faltered over the past year due to subscriber churn, amid a recent $50 million drop in revenue.