The Los Angeles Times has named Norman Pearlstine as its new executive editor, the paper announced Monday. The move comes on the first full day of management by the paper’s new owner, billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong.
Pearlstine, 75, has spent decades in media and previously had stints at the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News, Time Inc. magazines and Forbes.
“Not only does he have amazing experience with the full knowledge of how a newsroom runs — but he’s amazingly modern and forward-looking,” Soon-Shiong told the paper. “There’s no agenda, other than to make this the best journalistic institution. We’re lucky to be able to capture him.”
Pearlstine was one of several media bigwigs who consulted with Soon-Shiong about how to run the Los Angeles Times in the run-up to his takeover over the paper from previous owners, Tronc (formerly Tribune Publishing).
The media holding company sold off the L.A. Times to Soon-Shiong earlier this year for $500 million, returning the paper to local control for the first time in 18 years. As part of the deal, Soon-Shiong also acquired the San Diego Union-Tribune.
In a note to readers published Sunday, Soon-Shiong said that while he intended to run the the papers as a business, he also viewed them as a “quasi-public trust.”
“We understand they will be the voice and inspiration for our cities, our state, the nation and the world,” he said. “I believe that fake news is the cancer of our times and social media the vehicles for metastasis. Institutions like The Times and the Union-Tribune are more vital than ever.
The Soon-Shiong era brings to a close the paper’s troubled history with Tronc (where Soon-Shiong remains a major shareholder). In the last year of Tronc’s ownership, the broadsheet was riven by employee mistrust, a union drive and the ouster of publisher Ross Levinsohn over allegations of sexual harassment (he was later cleared in an internal investigation and remains CEO of Tronc’s digital arm, Tribune Interactive).
The choice of Pearlstine is an unusual one to lead the Times into an increasingly digital-first media world. Pearlstine, the author of several best-selling books, as of midday Monday had an unverified Twitter account with less than 200 followers.