Kevin Merida’s time at ESPN and The Undefeated has come to an end. On Monday, the Los Angeles Times announced Merida, The Undefeated’s editor-in-chief, had been hired as the paper’s new executive editor.

Merida’s hiring is the result of a search that took nearly half a year.

“I’m thrilled to be joining the Los Angeles Times. I’m going to do everything I can to make this the greatest media outlet for the people of California, of L.A. — and beyond,” Merida said in an interview. “I see nothing but opportunity. I think this can be the most innovative media company in the country.”

Merida, who is Black, becomes the 19th editor since The Times sprung to life in December 1881. He will take the helm of the newsroom in June, becoming the third person of color to steer the largest news organization in the West.

Merida joined ESPN in October of 2015 from the Washington Post, where he worked as the paper’s managing editor, and took over as the editor-in-chief of The Undefeated. The site eventually launched in May of 2016 to acclaim, and the brand continued to expand and evolve under Merida’s leadership over the last five years.

Merida quickly emerged as front-runner for the job because of his reputation as a thoughtful journalist with a rare combination of experience at legacy print publications, television and running a digital upstart. He is widely respected among colleagues and in the news industry.

“His mandate will be to maintain the highest level of journalistic strength and find ways to grab the attention of our community … not just Los Angelenos but also readers in the western region and hopefully even the nation,” Dr. Soon-Shiong said in an interview.

“And most importantly, his job is to move us into the digital arena,” Soon-Shiong said. “We want this paper to grow and be around for another 139 years.”

The next decision ESPN makes regarding Merida’s replacement at The Undefeated, and its future direction, is still unknown.

[LA Times]

About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.