Managing Editor S. Mitra Kalita is leaving the Los Angeles Times and returning to her home state of New York, Times Editor/Publisher Davan Maharaj announced. She has accepted an offter to become vice president of programming at CNN.
As one of The Times' three managing editors, Kalita has worked with colleagues throughout the newsroom to bring more readers to The Times' journalism, by finding ways to connect meaningfully with readers on topics that stirred their passions. "We all learned Mitra's mantra: the most successful digital stories are those that are original, genuine and 'felt,'" Maharaj said.
The audience on latimes.com has nearly doubled in the last year — to nearly 60 million unique visitors a month. Traffic from social media has also grown, and more than half of readers come to The Times from mobile.
Also in the last year, The Times' newsroom has become more diverse; more than a third are people of color, up significantly from a year ago.
Maharaj credits Kalita with playing a significant role in all of these achievements.
In a note to the newsroom, Kalita said that serving as a managing editor of The Times has been among the greatest honors of her life.
"I was brought here to lead editorial strategy and to continue to transform the newsroom," she said. "The truth is, I learned so much more from all of you. This place has experts on everything, from trade and tacos to quake fault lines and the box position on B.B. King's guitar."
Kalita added, "L.A.'s poet laureate Luis Rodriguez recently said of the city, 'All these palm trees are so strong, the winds and they hang in there. The people are like that.' You really are."
Maharaj said it isn't surprising that CNN offered Kalita a top position; her skills have been fiercely sought after in the news industry. Earlier this month, the New York Observer listed Kalita among the top 10 most poachable news executives.
For Kalita, it will be a homecoming. Her family is on the East Coast, and she has deep roots in New York — earning the moniker "The Queen of Queens" at her last employer, Quartz.
Maharaj said The Times will keep innovating to continue serving readers with great journalism in the digital age.
"The good news for The Times is that we have built a deep and talented team over the past year, which has helped advance our digital success," Maharaj said. "With our team in place, I am confident we can continue this progress."