Los Angeles Times Editor Out Following Scandal-Plagued Tenure

Norm Pearlstine, who presided over plagiarism and sexual harassment scandals, issued a memo to staff saying "I believe my work is done."
December 14, 2020, 9:45pm
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Los Angeles Times executive editor Norm Pearlstine is out, effective immediately, according to a memo sent by the paper’s owner, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong. 

“Times Managing Editors Scott Kraft and Kimi Yoshino will now be responsible for the day-to-day operation of the newsroom, reporting to me. Sewell Chan, Editor of the Editorial Pages, will also report to me,” Soon-Shiong wrote in the memo, which praised Pearlstine for his contributions to the paper. 

What Went Wrong at the Los Angeles Times

Following a summer of scandals and scrutiny—the issues ranged from plagiarism by a sports columnist to failing to appropriately address accusations of sexual harassment by a former deputy managing editor, as VICE News reported—Pearlstine wrote in an October memo that he would be resigning. But, he wrote, he would "remain as executive editor during the search" for a replacement. 

Pearlstine will evidently not be remaining as executive editor during the search, though it is unclear what changed. In a memo to staff Pearlstine wrote, “Although work on finding my successor has just begun, I believe my work is done. There are several people on staff who are ready to succeed me and several talented editors from elsewhere have also asked to be considered.”

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Sources say Pearlstine moved back to his penthouse in New York’s Tribeca neighborhood last week.

“While our search continues, Norm is transitioning into a Senior Advisor role, reporting to me in my role as Executive Chairman, effective immediately,” Soon-Shiong wrote in his memo. 

Pearlstine was hired in 2018 after Soon-Shiong, a billionaire bioscientist, purchased the company from the brink of ruin and set about reinvesting in the paper. While Pearlstine managed to bring a measure of stability to the paper, his tenure was also marked by mismanagement and missteps including falsely accusing a reporter of delivering a letter of complaint about him to Soon-Shiong’s office. 

The full memo from Soon-Shiong is below:

As Norm Pearlstine shared with the newsroom on Oct. 5, we’re conducting an open search for his successor as the Executive Editor of the Los Angeles Times. While our search continues, Norm is transitioning into a Senior Advisor role, reporting to me in my role as Executive Chairman, effective immediately. He will continue advising Michele and me on the search and other matters.

We cannot thank Norm enough for his contributions to the L.A. Times. As we became the new owners and needed to rapidly and thoughtfully revive this great American newspaper, Norm’s experience as a journalist and media executive proved invaluable. While we continue to work together, we want him to know that he leaves The Times a much better organization than when we set out on this journey together.

Times Managing Editors Scott Kraft and Kimi Yoshino will now be responsible for the day-to-day operation of the newsroom, reporting to me. Sewell Chan, Editor of the Editorial Pages, will also report to me.

As is the case currently, Scott, Kimi and Sewell will work in partnership with President and COO Chris Argentieri, Chief Human Resources Officer Nancy Antoniou, and other members of the leadership team, as appropriate. Anna Magzanyan, my Chief of Staff, continues to lead revenue development for the organization, and Jeff Light continues to lead The San Diego Union-Tribune as Publisher and Editor in Chief.

We’re fortunate that we have a strong leadership team in place, both in the newsroom and across the company. We will continue the search to find the right candidate to serve as the next editor of the Los Angeles Times and provide an update when we have more news to share.

Thank you, all, for the work you do each day to inform, engage and inspire our loyal readers, new subscribers and the community as a whole.

With respect and gratitude,

Patrick