New LA Times editor Pearlstine picks his deputies

soon-shiong-in-el-segundo.jpgPatrick Soon-Shiong on the roof of the new LA Times home office in El Segundo. From Colin Crawford on Twitter.

Clean-up edits and an update below after publishing.

Norm Pearlstine, the news veteran who is Patrick Soon-Shiong's choice to be editor of the Los Angeles Times for a couple of years, on Monday memoed the staff with his own picks of the top editors who will report to him. All but one are longtime Times editors.

The managing editor, typically the number two in the newsroom, will be Scott Kraft, a former foreign and national correspondent for the Times who has held several top editing jobs, most recently deputy ME. His naming was foreshadowed at Soon-Shiong's first meeting with the staff last month. While Pearlstine has only been in the building a few months, Kraft knows everybody.

If you are keeping score at home, the big winner appears to be Kimi Yoshino, the Business section editor who was famously suspended during the brief reign of Tronc's prince of darkness, Lewis Dvorkin. The suspension was reportedly over some kind of perceived disloyalty, an allegation that her staff found simply bizarre, and she now gains oversight of a broad portfolio that includes arts and entertainment, sports and special projects. The Times has gone this way before with an uber-editor over disparate sections and areas of responsibility. Different titles have been used in the past; Yoshino will be deputy managing editor.

Another interesting part is that Nick Goldberg remains as editor of the editorial pages (and op-ed) for his umpteenth editor-publisher-owner combination — seriously, I can't even count how many different reporting lines Goldberg has lived with. He will report directly to Pearlstine, which is a bit newsy. Depending on the era and the leadership, the editor of the Times editorial pages has reported either to the publisher or to the top newsroom editor. Soon-Shiong's LAT does not have anyone with the title of publisher.

Deputy managing editor Colin Crawford will remain in the post and add to his duties, most notably with oversight of labor relations. That's key because the newsroom last year voted to recognize a guild, and the next year will be consumed with negotiating a first contract.

Kris Viesselman, hired last month with the new title of chief transformation editor and creative director, also reports to Pearlstine and started on Monday. She too will have a broad range of responsibility, overseeing the digital Times, the data desk, design, newsletters, video and interacting with the San Diego Union-Tribune, which Soon-Shiong also bought from Tronc. She comes to the Times from CQ and Roll Call, where she was editor-in-chief and chief creative officer. She worked at the Times in the '90s as an art director and graphics editor. Update noted: On the new masthead revealed Tuesday, Viesselman is equal to Kraft and above the deputy managing editors.

That's three men and two women. Yoshino is the only person of color as far as I know. Soon-Shiong, by the way, is on the masthead as executive chairman.

Pearlstine's memo is below. This is a big week at the Times. The move from First and Spring to El Segundo is well underway; the first staffers are already working out of the beach city. On Thursday the current staff is hosting a farewell party in the Times' headquarters since 1935, with a general invitation to former staffers, and more than 700 current employees and alumni have RSVPed to attend.

The building is slated for redevelopment by Onni Group, a Canadian developer with projects across downtown Los Angeles. A last-hour move by preservationists to win historical cultural monument status for the Times building, the 1950s Mirror building at Second and Spring, and the 1970s-era Times Mirror corporate building at First and Broadway is pending at City Hall. If the City Council grants landmark status, the developer would be forced to go through a few more steps to renovate. The corporate building, designed by William Pereira, is the only main building at the former Times Mirror Square slated for demolition.

From: "Pearlstine, Norman"
Date: Monday, July 9, 2018 at 2:27 PM
To: yyeditall
Subject: Promotions and Management Structure

Dear Colleagues,

It is my pleasure to announce two promotions, and share a refinement in our newsroom management structure.

Scott Kraft, who has been a deputy managing editor for almost six years, will now be our managing editor. If you research Scott’s bylines, you’ll find he’s filed more than 1,100 stories for The Times and, while at the Associated Press, was a Pulitzer finalist for feature writing. He’s been a national correspondent, foreign bureau chief, deputy foreign editor and National editor.

In many ways, Scott’s promotion is an acknowledgement of the role he instinctively took on during the past tumultuous year, working with teams throughout the newsroom to produce journalism of the highest quality. He’ll now have overall responsibility for what-goes-where in our print and digital editions, and will oversee Metro and California; National, Washington and Foreign; and Investigative and Enterprise, working closely with the relevant editors.

Kimi Yoshino, who has been Business editor and interim deputy for our digital report, will now be a deputy managing editor with responsibility for Business, Arts and Entertainment, Sports and Lifestyle, as well as editorial events and special projects. Kimi has been Business editor since 2014, following a distinguished turn as an assistant editor in Metro. Prior to becoming an editor, she was a reporter for the Metro and Business sections, and did two rotations reporting from Baghdad.

I have come to recognize Kimi’s innate sense of fairness. She makes tough decisions look easy. I also appreciate her ability to create an environment that encourages collaboration and great journalism. She and Scott share many of these qualities that make them excellent mentors and leaders, so I will also be working with them both on our recruiting efforts.

In tandem with these promotions, I’m forming a management team of five direct reports, to include Scott and Kimi.

Colin Crawford continues as deputy managing editor, responsible for News Operations, Development and Labor Relations; Photo; Multiplatform Editing; Editorial Library and Rights and Permissions; Hoy and Times Community News.

Kris Viesselman, whose appointment as Chief Transformation Editor and Creative Director was announced last month, joins us today. Kris will have responsibility for Digital, Audience Engagement, the Data Desk and Data Visualization; Design; Video; Newsletters; new editorial products and liaising with The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Nick Goldberg, editor of the editorial pages, will continue to oversee Opinion, including editorials on behalf of The Times, opinion columnists and op-ed columns.

I have long believed that the more I can delegate, the more we can get done. My goal, in giving significant authority and responsibility to a superb group of managers, is to spend more time focusing on our journalism and all of you who continue to produce our excellent reporting.

Please join me in congratulating Scott and Kimi. Their promotions and the new structure for our management team are just a few important steps as we move forward together.


Norman Pearlstine
Executive Editor

Pearlstine is not a big participant in social media, unlike his peers at the top of the New York Times and Washington Post. He tweets rarely. Of the new leadership, Yoshino is the more active on Twitter. Viesselman is mostly a retweeter but did report on her recent move from Washington. Kraft and Crawford pick their spots but don't tweet a lot of original material. Goldberg has tweeted once. Of course, holding senior positions at the LA Times, anything they express an opinion on is potential news going forward. Here's where you can follow Soon-Shiong.

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