After a five-month search to helm its newsroom, the Los Angeles Times has named Kevin Merida as its executive editor, replacing Norman Pearlstine who stepped down in December. He becomes the second African-American to hold that position after Dean P. Baquet, who now heads the New York Times.
Merida comes to the Times at a point when it is under fire for its deficient coverage of communities of color, especially as the city’s population becomes increasingly non-White. In a memo from last June, Pearlstine noted that the paper had “… a long, well-documented history of fueling the racism and cruelty that accompanied our city’s becoming a metropolis.”
The announcement was made by Dr. Patrick and Michele Soon-Shiong, the Times owners since 2018 (they also own a percentage of the Los Angeles Lakers). The couple is South African born, of Chinese descent, and Dr. Soon-Shiong earned his board certification as a surgeon at UCLA, circa 1984, before going on to form various healthcare companies including NantHealth. The couple is estimated to be worth in excess of $7 billion.
Merida takes charge in June. Most recently he oversaw The Undefeated a sports/pop culture blog run by ESPN. Highlights of his career include his managing editor position at the Washington Post, and he was a finalist for The Pulitzer Prize in 1990.
He is married to author and journalist Donna Britt, and they plan to relocate to Los Angeles with youngest son Skye, host and producer of “No Capes Required,” a podcast focusing on superheroes. Older sons (by Britt’s previous marriage) screenwriter Justin Britt-Gibson (FX Network’s “The Strain”) and actor Darrell Britt-Gibson (“Judas and the Black Messiah”) already reside in L.A.
Kevin Merida and Donna Britt were named seventh on the list of African-American power couples by Huffington Post/Blackvoices.com in 2012.