March 19, 2019

Los Angeles Times, Searching for Stability, Names Norman Pearlstine Top Editor

“There’s been a lot of attrition, a lot of talent has walked out the door,” Mr. Pearlstine said in an interview. In meetings with the staff in recent weeks, “what I heard was a lot of frustration, a lot of fatigue,” he added. “A lot of problems, but none that can’t be addressed by a lot of care, of listening.”

In recent years, as the disruptions of the digital age continued to pummel the newspaper industry, Tronc made a number of awkward attempts to reshape The Los Angeles Times. The company, in a widely ridiculed move, changed its name from Tribune Publishing to Tronc — short for Tribune Online Content — in 2016, and tried to push a technology-driven approach to journalism. Its aim to “funnel” its journalism to a global audience was met with skepticism, and the paper has had three different top editors in the past year. (On Monday, the company was reportedly considering changing its name again.)

So the newsroom viewed the emergence of Dr. Soon-Shiong as a new owner with relief.

“The message he’s trying to send is ‘I stand by the tenets of this industry,’” John Geddes, a former editor at The New York Times who worked with Mr. Pearlstine at The Wall Street Journal, said of Dr. Soon-Shiong.

The appointment of Mr. Pearlstine, who was introduced to the newsroom Monday morning, was widely applauded by members of the staff. On Twitter, one of them called finally being free of Tronc “Liberation Day.” Another wrote, “Hallelujah.” Mr. Pearlstine is known to many of them already, thanks to the recent meetings.

“In those conversations, he showed a pretty granular grasp of the newsroom’s internal dynamics,” said Matt Pearce, a national reporter at the paper who is also the vice chairman of its union, the Los Angeles Times Guild.

“People like him,” Mr. Pearce added. “He’s met with a ton of us behind the scenes and has come off as smart and approachable.”

Dr. Soon-Shiong, who will take on the role of executive chairman at the paper, also said he immediately planned to invest $150 million in building a 10-acre campus for the newspaper in El Segundo, an area near the Los Angeles airport, that will include a museum to honor the newspaper’s past. The property will also include event space and a state-of-the-art studio for producing podcasts and documentaries.

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