Los Angeles Times Executive Editor Kevin Merida Exits After Tension With Paper’s Owner

The former ESPN executive will leave this week “after considerable soul-searching about my career at this stage and how best to be of value to the profession I love”

Kevin Merida
Ilya S. Savenok / Getty Images

Los Angeles Times executive editor Kevin Merida will exit his role at the publication on Friday, he announced via an internal memo obtained by TheWrap Tuesday. 

The move followed reported tensions with the paper’s owner and executive chairman Patrick Soon-Shiong over Merida’s decision to bar journalists from covering the Israel-Hamas War who had signed a letter condemning Israel.

“Today with a heavy heart, I announce that I am leaving The Times,” Merida wrote in the memo. “I made the decision, in consultation with Patrick, after considerable soul-searching about my career at this stage and how to best be of value to the profession I love.”

“There will be more to come soon about newsroom leadership going forward,” Merida added.

Soon-Shiong also sent a memo to staff writing, “Kevin Merida and I have mutually agreed that his role as executive editor of the L.A. Times will conclude this week.”

“I am grateful for Kevin’s contributions as a valued member of the executive leadership team,” Soon-Shiong continued. “During his tenure, the L.A. Times earned three Pulitzer Prizes, launched a range of community-centered journalism projects and collaborated with Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning partners to extend our storytelling beyond our traditional forms.”

“Kevin also played a strong role in steering the L.A. Times through a challenging economic climate within the media industry,” Soon-Shiong wrote.

Merida’s exit comes amid reports of ongoing tension with the Soon-Shiong family regarding his decision to bar L.A. Times journalists from reporting on Gaza after nearly a dozen signed a letter condemning Israel’s military response to Hamas’ Oct. 7 terrorist attacks on its civilians. The New York Times reports that the family discussed selling the paper in the wake of Merida’s decision.

Soon-Shiong noted that the publication will conduct an “internal and external search” for Merida’s successor.

In the meantime, the L.A. Times senior leadership team, which includes Julia Turner, Sara Yasin, Scott Kraft and Shani Hilton will oversee the newsroom. Terry Tang will continue to lead the outlet’s opinion section, according to Soon-Shiong.

In June, the paper eliminated 74 jobs, about 13% of the newsroom staff, in the wake of declining ad revenue and readership.

In July, billionaire owner Soon-Shiong sold the San Diego Union-Tribune, worrying analysts that the L.A. Times could be next as the media industry faces massive economic headwinds. 

Merida acknowledged earlier this year that the L.A. Times has been losing money. 

Two years ago, TheWrap reported exclusively that the paper’s revenue fell to $350 million in 2020 from well above $400 million the previous year, which California Times president Chris Argentieri shared with the newsroom at the time. Since then, the advertising business has been decimated and circulation has slowed industry-wide. 

This year, the outlet surpassed 550,000 digital subscriptions, including subscriptions through Apple News+. However, that’s a far lower number than Soon-Shiong’s target of 1 million subscriptions by 2022, which he set when he bought the paper.


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