Biotech billionaire takes over at Los Angeles Times, new editor named

June 18, 2018
Patrick Soon-Shiong finalized a deal to take over the Los Angeles Times Monday and named as executive editor veteran journalist Norman Pearlstine

Biotech billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong took over Monday as the new owner of the Los Angeles Times and immediately named respected journalist Norman Pearlstine as top editor.

The changeover aims to reinvigorate what had been one of the leading US dailies until it fell on hard economic times in the digital era and saw a rise in newsroom unrest.

"From today, our important work protecting and building on a rich history of independent journalism begins—with a sense of urgency and purpose," said a note to readers by Soon-Shiong, who agreed to pay $500 million and assume $90 million in pension liabilities to acquire the daily from the newspaper group Tronc.

The new owner's first move was to name as executive editor Pearlstine, 75, who has worked at The Wall Street Journal, Time Inc. magazines and Bloomberg News in a 50-year career.

"Not only does he have amazing experience with the full knowledge of how a newsroom runs—but he's amazingly modern and forward-looking," Soon-Shiong told the newspaper.

"There's no agenda, other than to make this the best journalistic institution."

Soon-Shiong, a surgeon whose biotech investments have boosted his net worth to some $7.5 billion, reached the deal earlier this year to take over the Times and The San Diego Union-Tribune, operating under the California News Group.

He becomes the latest billionaire aiming to revive the fortunes of ailing US metropolitan newspapers, following Amazon owner Jeff Bezos's takeover of The Washington Post and investor John Henry's deal for The Boston Globe.

He reached the deal after months of newsroom unrest at the storied Los Angeles daily that saw three editors in the past six months and a vote to unionize the journalists.

The LA Times, like many newspapers, has been downsizing its staff as readers turn away from print to online news platforms.

The Los Angeles daily was family-owned for more than a century before being sold to the Chicago-based Tribune Co. in 2000.

Tribune Co., which split off its broadcast division and renamed its publishing arm Tronc (for Tribune Online Content), will continue to own the Chicago Tribune, Orlando Sentinel, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Baltimore Sun and New York Daily News.

Soon-Shiong, born in South Africa to Chinese parents, has been an investor in Tronc and also owns a stake in the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team.

He has been a faculty member at the UCLA medical school and has invested in and donated to medical research.

Explore further: Los Angeles Times sold to local billionaire for $500 million (Update)

Related Stories

The doctor's in, but jury is out on new LA Times owner

February 8, 2018

The struggling Los Angeles Times found a local savior in a biotech billionaire willing to buy the storied newspaper from a corporation half a continent away, but the change of ownership brings its own set of questions and ...

The Daily News, a storied New York tabloid, is sold to Tronc

September 5, 2017

The owner of two of the country's largest newspapers has purchased the Daily News, a New York tabloid that is famous for generations of hard-punching reporting and irreverent headlines but that has struggled recently to find ...

Recommended for you

Team breaks world record for fast, accurate AI training

November 7, 2018

Researchers at Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) have partnered with a team from Tencent Machine Learning to create a new technique for training artificial intelligence (AI) machines faster than ever before while maintaining ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.