Kim Murphy, the Los Angeles Times assistant managing editor for national and foreign news, is leaving to become a top editor on the national desk at the New York Times. The timing is interesting because Murphy's name had come up in newsroom speculation as a possible editor in chief at the LAT once Patrick Soon-Shiong takes over the paper. Here's the memo to the NYT newsroom this morning from national editor Marc Lacey, himself one of many former LA Times journalists now in prominent roles at the New York paper. Lacey called it "good news for the country."
From: "Lacey, Marc"
Subject: Good news for the country
Date: February 8, 2018 at 8:59:20 AM EST
To: National Desk Staff
Kim Murphy, a hugely talented and much-beloved correspondent and editor at The Los Angeles Times, will be joining the National desk next month as an enterprise editor.
Kim has done it all as a journalist. She started at small places, The North Biloxian and The Minot Daily News, and then rose up to become one of the L.A. Times's star correspondents, with datelines across the United States and the world. She jumped into editing in recent years, becoming the L.A. Times's national editor and then joining that paper's masthead as assistant managing editor for national and foreign news.
Her correspondents know when she's on the line that she's not asking them to do anything she has not done herself, and done well. "She's a reporter's editor," said Rick Rojas of Metro, who worked with Kim at the L.A. Times and whose eyes lit up when he heard she would be moving east.
Kim won a Pulitzer for international reporting in 2005 for "her eloquent, wide-ranging coverage of Russia's struggle to cope with terrorism, improve the economy and make democracy work." Dean, who was at the L.A. Times then, said he still remembers the lede of one of her pieces, which described how Russian militants who took hostages at a primary school allowed one mother to leave but with only one of her two children. “It was breathtaking,” Dean said of her account.
Closer to home, Kim wrote memorable articles like this one, on a murder mystery unfolding in a tiny town in Alaska, while she was a correspondent in the Pacific Northwest.
On National, Kim will work with a team of lucky correspondents and help drive enterprise across our report. She'll start on March 12. Please welcome her.
The Dean he mentions is executive editor Dean Baquet, former top editor at the LAT.
At the end of 2015, when the LA Times was going through a deep round of buyouts and cuts, she distributed a frank note that said "let's not pretend this is anything but sad," and adding a personal point: "Please remember that one of the reasons I stayed was because so many fine people are also remaining. Do not fear that all the talent has slipped out the door. Look around you when this is over, and you will see how much good work we have ahead of us."
She tweeted today's news and said she has never been more optimistic about the future of the LA Times.
Tremendously excited to be joining @NYTNational as an enterprise editor, working with the great @marclacey and some of the best reporters in the world. Let me add: I have never felt more optimistic about the future of my beloved @latimes. Great journalism on 2 coasts!— Kim Murphy (@kimmurphy) February 8, 2018
From a masthead colleague:
Congratulations @kimmurphy! A crushing loss for the LATimes. One of the smartest and hard-working colleagues you could have.— michael whitley (@michaelwhitley) February 8, 2018