Rumors Swirl About Candidates for the Top Job at the L.A. Times

Names floated as successors to Norman Pearlstine include talent from ESPN, The New York Times, and The Hollywood Reporter

The Los Angeles Times is searching for a new executive editor in the wake of Norman Pearlstine’s departure—and names that may be under consideration are bubbling up in media circles. In addition to editors already at the Times looking for a promotion, the rumor mill has pointed so far to three outside candidates: Kevin Merida, Dean Baquet, and Janice Min.

Kevin Merida, currently a senior vice president at ESPN and editor-in-chief of The Undefeated, was tipped as a top prospect for the Times by New York Times media columnist Ben Smith.

Described by Sports Business Daily as a “well-liked and highly regarded executive”–and named just last month to the board that judges Pulitzer Prizes–Merida was the managing editor of news and features at The Washington Post until joining ESPN in 2015, which could complicate his candidacy. Sources say he’s also considered a top candidate for a slot currently open on the Post‘s masthead.

Another East Coaster in contention could be Dean Baquet of The New York Times. Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong reportedly offered the job to Baquet in 2018, even attempting to win back the ex-Angeleno on the basketball court at his Brentwood home.

I let him shoot a few shots to see if I could convince him,” Soon-Shiong said at the time. “I said we’ll play HORSE and if I win, you’re gonna have to stay.”

Despite the entreaties, Baquet passed then–but some whisper that, a few years later, he may be willing to reconsider. Now executive editor of The New York Times, Baquet will turn 65 years old in 2021–that paper’s mandatory retirement age for masthead editors.

Today the New York Post reports that media exec Janice Min may also be part of the conversation. She’s credited with turning around publications including The Hollywood Reporter and Us Weekly, before switching gears in 2018 to help launch Quibi. She exited that project well before it imploded.

An internal candidate is far from out of the question. Several insiders have suggested that Kimi Yoshino could be ready to take the reins. Currently a managing editor, she began taking on some of the job duties in preparations for Pearlstine’s departure, and is now reporting directly to Soon-Shiong. High-profile Times editors Sewell Chan, Shani O. Hilton, and Julia Turner have also been mentioned.

While the pick will ultimately come from ownership, any candidate who wants the job would do well to impress the journalists at the Times. 

The staff wants a stake in who their next editor is,” sources told Vanity Fair in October. “The next editor will be stronger if they have buy-in.”

RELATED: Los Angeles Times Executive Editor Norman Pearlstine to Resign

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