Longtime political writer and editor Cathleen Decker left the Los Angeles Times staff on Friday for a new job, starting Monday, as national campaign editor at the Washington Post. She has been at the Times for, as she put it, 485 months — since starting as a college intern in 1978. She becomes the second top staffer to depart during the drawn-out escrow period in which Los Angeles investor Patrick Soon-Shiong may be buying the Times — if the deal ever closes. National and foreign editor Kim Murphy resigned to join the New York Times as a senior national desk editor, though I believe that she accepted the job before the sale to Soon-Shiong was announced.
Also leaving is sports reporter Lindsey Thiry, who jumped last week to ESPN's Rams beat. More on her below. Last month, Metro reporter Kate Mather left for law school. Exits from the Washington bureau recently include White House reporter Brian Bennett, who moved to Time as the magazine's senior White House correspondent; Joe Tanfani, to Reuters; Lisa Mascaro, to AP as chief congressional correspondent; and W.J. Hennigan, also to Time.
Decker has spent much of her time recently at the LAT's Washington bureau, helping on politics and White House coverage. But Decker made her name covering national and statewide political campaigns for the Times, and with a column on California politics, and she's leaving just as California is in the midst of another campaign that will begin the post-Jerry Brown era.
At the Post, Decker will rejoin several former LA Times colleagues, including the top editor Martin Baron and political enterprise editor Matea Gold. When Decker ran the 2012 campaign coverage at the LAT, Gold was a reporter on the team. "We are very excited to announce that Cathleen Decker is joining The Post as Campaign Editor on our national politics team," the Post said.
Decker sent a warm note to the Times newsroom on Friday.
This is my 485th month, and my last day, at the Los Angeles Times. I walked into the newsroom for the first time in January of 1978. It was decrepit even then, deliciously so, and I fell immediately for the place, the air filled with the clatter of typewriters and cursing and cigar smoke, and more importantly of ambition and competition and a desire to be the best and to have a spectacularly good time doing so. Now, like someone who runs 25 miles of a marathon then veers onto a different course, I’m departing for a new and different challenge that landed exactly when I needed to test myself in new ways on unfamiliar ground. Starting Monday, I’ll be the national campaign editor for the Washington Post.
I learned everything I know about what we do at Times Mirror Square. Deep thanks to all who taught me, from old-time rewrite folks and gifted editors to the more recent arrivals who shared all manner of new tools. I tried to pass everything along; an especially giant thanks to the reporters who so generously put up with me as their editor.
I hope that in its new iteration the Times will continue to be guided by the spirit that has always inhabited the place, whether at First and Spring or in El Segundo: its relentless refusal to give up or curb its ambitions even when all logic suggests otherwise. Take care of each other.
I will be cheering it on from a different place, but no less loudly.
The Post gleefully announced the hire on Twitter, and Times colleagues, current and past, joined in. The newsroom reaction elsewhere on social media seems to be happiness for Cathy but a shock for the remaining journalists, who are still nervous about the Soon-Shiong sale and the future more generally, that a longtime newsroom fixture is leaving for a better job at a more stable, and even ascendant, media outlet.
I love @cathleendecker. Having her as my close friend, on-again, off-again editor and full-time partner has been one of the great joys of my 20+ years @latimes. As good as folks @washingtonpost may think she is, they're in for a pleasant surprise: She's even better in real life.— Mark Z. Barabak (@markzbarabak) May 18, 2018
You guys are so very lucky! @cathleendecker is the best in the biz, and I cannot say how much I will miss her guidance, warmth, advice and friendship. We will miss you so much. Though I expect regular breakfast at Hof’s when you visit. https://t.co/O31MFBOUyD— Seema Mehta (@LATSeema) May 18, 2018
Also leaving: Sportswriter and podcaster Lindsey Thiry has jumped to ESPN to cover the Los Angeles Rams.
Personal news: It was a great four years working with some of the best in the business at the Los Angeles Times. I'm excited to announce that I will now be covering the LA Rams for ESPN. https://t.co/A1u4i18EBr— Lindsey Thiry (@LindseyThiry) May 17, 2018
From ESPN's story:
Thiry joins ESPN from the Los Angeles Times where she worked as a multimedia sports reporter the past four years, covering the Rams, Dodgers, Lakers, USC and UCLA. Thiry’s versatility was evident as she wrote regularly for the print and digital editions, while also producing daily videos and podcasts. She won an Associated Press Sports Editors’ award for a short video in 2016.
Before joining the Times, Thiry covered college football and recruiting for Scout.com, and appeared on Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports West and Spectrum SportsNet.
On Twitter, former Times sports reporter and columnist J.A. Adande, himself an alum at ESPN and now teaching journalism at Northwestern, offered his support: "Congrats @LindseyThiry Hmmm, LA Times to ESPN....Next stop, Northwestern?"