Anne Kornblut, a former Washington Post Pulitzer Prize winner who now works for Facebook, is the latest candidate to pull out of the race for top job at the Los Angeles Times, Media Ink has learned.
Kornblut withdrew her name from the running following a Feb. 19 report in the Wall Street Journal that LA Times owner Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong is exploring a potential sale, sources said.
Soon-Shiong, who acquired the LA Times, the San Diego Union-Tribune and a handful of weeklies for $500 million in 2018, has denied the report. But as The Post reported last week, it appears to be complicating the LA paper’s search effort with another candidate — Janice Min, a former executive at The Hollywood Reporter and Us Weekly — also withdrawing from the race.
Kornblut is currently head of curation for Facebook News, where she started as a director. Despite continued conflicts over the Mark Zuckerberg-owned social media network’s freewheeling approach to paying for news, her digital background was considered a big asset by the LA Times search committee, sources said.
Kornblut also has an impressive newspaper career, including stints at the New York Daily News, the Boston Globe and the New York Times. In 2007 she moved to the Washington Post, where she worked as a deputy assistant managing editor and oversaw teams that won two Pulitzer Prizes, including in 2014 for coverage of Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks and in 2015 for reporting on security lapses within the US Secret Service.
She could not be reached for comment. A spokeswoman for the LA Times said only that a search for a new editor continues.
The Journal report said Soon-Shong is exploring several exit strategies as his newspaper losses mount, including an outright sale, bringing in an investor and selling the San Diego paper.
Soon-Shiong, who rarely communicates with the press, tweeted Friday that the WSJ report was not true and that he was “committed to @latimes.”
Chris Argenti, president and COO of the parent company California Times, also splashed cold water on the report. “Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong and his family continue to invest in and plan for the future of the California Times which includes the LA Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune and do not plan to sell,” he said in a memo to the staff Friday. “It’s unfortunate that the Journal chose to publish the story and we’re sorry for any concern it may have caused.”
Also on the list, as The Post has reported, is ESPN’s Kevin Merida, editor-in-chief of The Undefeated sports blog. He did not return a call seeking comment.
The top job at the LA paper opened up in October when Norm Pearlstine said he would be stepping down as executive editor. He left the post mid-December.
In addition to financial losses, Soon-Shiong has been dealing with newsroom backlash over diversity issues, including allegations of pay disparities.