Read the memo

LA Times shifts top foreign, national and metro editors

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The Los Angeles Times has named new editors in charge of the foreign and Metro staffs and hired a new enterprise editor from the Texas Tribune. The biggest news is probably that, with the departure of foreign editor Mark Porubcansky, the Times is going with one senior editor overseeing both the foreign and national desks. That person is Kim Murphy, who has been the national editor. Shelby Grad also moves up from city editor to be the assistant managing editor over all California news coverage. Expect other adjustments in the near term — such as a new publisher — as the Times moves toward full implementation of its spinoff into a new company, separate from Tribune.

Here are today's memos to the newsroom.

Subject: Message from Davan Maharaj and Marc Duvoisin

To the staff:

Today we announce a reorganization involving three of our most important news departments. These changes will advance our efforts to produce a digital report second to none, and reaffirm our commitment to first-rate accountability and enterprise journalism.

We also announce, with decidedly mixed emotions, that Foreign Editor Mark Porubcansky is leaving The Times after 16 years as a mainstay of our international coverage. More on that later.

Here are the details on the leadership changes:

Shelby Grad becomes assistant managing editor for California news.

Shelby brings many valuable qualities to this important role: a deep knowledge of our city and state, a fire for accountability journalism, a relentless work ethic and fluency in digital journalism.

He succeeds Ashley Dunn, who is moving to the national desk after three and a half years leading Metro. As deputy national editor, Ashley will help Kim Murphy run day-to-day coverage and oversee our national correspondents.

Shelby grew up in the Fairfax District and graduated from Fairfax High School. He has worked at The Times since graduating from San Jose State with a degree in journalism in 1993. He started as a reporter in the Orange County Edition, then became an editor on the city desk. He moved downtown in 2003 as morning assigning editor and helped direct the paper’s Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of that year’s devastating Southern California wildfires.

He became Times city editor in 2004.

In the 10 years since then, Shelby has been the beating heart behind two of our core missions – local breaking news and accountability reporting.

He had a guiding hand in the coverage that exposed egregious official corruption in the city of Bell, resulting in arrests and convictions, reform legislation, a change in the city’s political leadership and the 2011 Pulitzer Prize gold medal for public service.

He has also steered breaking news coverage of stories too numerous to list, including floods, landslides, celebrity deaths and the murderous rampage of ex-LAPD officer Christopher Dorner.

Shelby helped to develop the paper’s first real-time news operation, L.A. Now, and for years he has trained reporters and editors in how to cover news online, build an audience and use social media to extend the reach of our journalism.

He inherits a department ably led by Ashley since 2011.

Ashley joined The Times in 1986 as a suburban reporter in the San Gabriel Valley and moved to Metro in time to help cover the Loma Prieta earthquake, the Los Angeles riots and the Reginald Denny case. After a stint at the New York Times, he returned to our newsroom in 1998 as a technology reporter in Business and later became deputy editor of the weekly Tech Times section.

Ashley went on to lead the science team, where he brought together his skills as a wordsmith, team leader and process whiz. He was an editor on the national desk for three years before becoming AME for California news.

In the latter position, he reorganized Metro, recruited exceptional talent, and helped secure and administer Ford Foundation grants for coverage of immigration and social justice issues.

Ashley also brought a sharp mind and deft pencil to every story that crossed his desk. Among many that profited from his involvement was the remarkable narrative reconstruction of the Dorner manhunt, a finalist for the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing.

Kim Murphy becomes assistant managing editor for national/foreign.

As national editor, Kim has brought energy and purpose to one of our signature coverage areas. She’s encouraged ambitious enterprise. She’s orchestrated aggressive team coverage of big breaking stories. She’s found creative ways to serve digital readers.

So it’s a great pleasure to announce that she is taking on a bigger role at The Times, adding foreign news and the foreign staff to her responsibilities.

Kim’s credentials speak for themselves, loudly. She served with distinction as a Times national reporter and foreign correspondent, winning a Pulitzer Prize in 2005 for what the judges described as “her eloquent, wide-ranging coverage of Russia’s struggle to cope with terrorism, improve the economy and make democracy work.”

Kim joined The Times in 1983 as a general assignment reporter in Orange County. Six years later, she began the first of a string of national and foreign assignments. She covered the Pacific Northwest from Seattle. She reported on the Middle East from Cairo. She served as bureau chief in Moscow, and later in London, before returning stateside for a second tour in Seattle.

Along the way, Kim reported from the Balkans, Afghanistan and the scenes of many disasters, natural and man-made, including the Aurora, Colo., theater massacre and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

She became national editor in June 2013.

As noted above, Kim’s promotion coincides with the departure of Mark Porubcansky, who plans to move to Minnesota with his wife, Sarah, to write a little, read a lot, plant a garden and do some teaching. He will be in the newsroom for a few more weeks.

Mark has spent 30 years in foreign news as a reporter and editor. He came to The Times in 1998 from the Associated Press, where he served in Moscow, Vienna and Hong Kong. At The Times, he was an assistant foreign editor, foreign projects editor and deputy foreign editor before taking the helm of the department two years ago.

On his watch, the foreign staff produced exceptional coverage of the Syrian civil war (a 2014 Pulitzer Prize finalist), the ascension of a new pope, the death of Nelson Mandela, sectarian slaughter in the Central African Republic, the disintegration of Iraq, the Mexican government’s struggle with the drug cartels, and many other stories. He will leave behind a newsroom full of admirers.

Please join us in supporting Shelby, Kim and Ashley in their new roles, and in wishing Mark the greatest happiness in the world thought to exist outside daily journalism.

Davan and Marc

And this pick-up from Texas:

To the staff:

As managing editor of the nonprofit Texas Tribune, Brandi Grissom has been a force for outstanding investigative journalism. So we’re thrilled to announce that she is heading to Los Angeles to join The Times’ Metro staff.

As Enterprise Editor, Brandi will help editors in Metro shoulder the workload of investigative and enterprise editing. She’ll also use her organizational and digital skills to help us plan and manage our projects more effectively. She will report to Shelby Grad.

The Texas Tribune focuses on investigative, policy and political reporting. Brandi has worked at the news site since it launched in 2009. She knows her way around data and video, and she has excelled as both an investigative reporter and editor.

“Hurting for Work,” a recent series she oversaw, exposed holes in Texas’ safety net for workers killed or injured on the job. (Find the stories here:

Previously, Brandi covered criminal justice for the Texas Tribune. She and colleague Justin Dehn won a 2012 regional Edward R. Murrow Award for their coverage of the case of Megan Winfrey, a Texas woman who was sentenced to life in prison for murder, only to be freed after bloodhound evidence used against her was discredited.

Brandi spent four years at the El Paso Times, where she was a one-woman state capitol bureau and won an Associated Press Managing Editors award in 2007 for effective use of the Freedom of Information Act. The ACLU of Texas named her legislative reporter of the year in 2007 for her reporting on immigration.

A native of Alliance, Neb., she has a degree in history from the University of Texas, where she was managing editor of the Daily Texan.

Please join us in welcoming her to Los Angeles.

Davan and Marc

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