Los Angeles Times owner Patrick Soon-Shiong sought to reassure his staff that he was “making progress” on hiring the paper’s next executive editor in an email on Thursday, even as no decision appears imminent with the leading candidate, ESPN’s Kevin Merida.
“I understand that there’s a lot of interest in the search for the next editor of the L.A. Times. We’re not ready to break any news yet, but rest assured that we’re making progress and will share what we can on the 25th,” he wrote in a note to staff, referring to an upcoming company-wide meeting hosted by Chris Argentieri, the president of the L.A. Times and the The San Diego Union-Tribune, and Nancy Antoniou, the chief human resources officer for both papers.
Merida, the editor in chief of ESPN’s The Undefeated, has been the leading candidate for the position for at least two months, as TheWrap has previously reported. At least four other possible candidates — Janice Min, Rene Sanchez, Marc Lacey and Ann Kornblut — have withdrawn from consideration since December, when the Times’ former executive editor Norman Pearlstine stepped down.
Merida declined to comment when reached by TheWrap.
It remains unclear what Soon-Shiong will announce to staff regarding the editor search, but the meeting comes at a critical time amid speculation that Soon-Shiong may be exploring a sale of the Times and the Union-Tribune, according to a February report from The Wall Street Journal.
Soon-Shiong quickly denied the report last month and a spokeswoman for the Times told TheWrap that he did not have plans to sell the paper. And in his Thursday note to staff, he reaffirmed his family’s commitment to the “future” of the Times and the Union-Tribune.
“Despite disappointing media reports to the contrary, our commitment has not wavered: We are planning for the future of the California Times and look forward to gathering, safely, again in person,” Soon-Shiong wrote. “My family and I thank you for the dedication you’ve shown to keeping our communities informed and engaged during this historic year. The L.A. Times and San Diego Union-Tribune have been sources of vital information, difficult truths and needed inspiration for the readers who rely on us every day.”