Sharon Matthews joining The Times as deputy managing editor of Originals and VP of L.A. Times Studios
The following announcement was sent on behalf of Managing Editor and Senior Vice President of L.A. Times Studios Shani O. Hilton:
I am pleased to announce that Sharon Matthews will be joining us as a leader for the Los Angeles Times’ video, television and film strategy. Matthews will bring more than 25 years of experience and a deep passion to her role as deputy managing editor for L.A. Times Originals and vice president of L.A. Times Studios.
Matthews’ childhood fascination with storytelling became a decades-long career in journalism, sparked when she assisted in the launch of her hometown’s digital channel NBA TV Canada (formerly known as Raptors NBA TV and Leafs TV). Armed with a mini-HD DV camcorder, she drove 300 miles to Akron, Ohio, to cover a young man who attended St. Vincent-St. Mary High School — 18-year-old LeBron James.
“When I arrived, the doors were locked, and there was a ‘no media allowed’ sign on the door,” Matthews said of her trip to Akron. “At that moment, I knew I wasn’t going to be shut out, and I was going to find a way inside. Once I did, I asked Coach Dru Joyce II why he let me in. He said, ‘We don’t see many people who look like you and doing what you’re doing.’
“The moment when you realize you have the potential to unlock doors for others, metamorphosis begins,” Matthews said. “It is when the beauty of storytelling and its possibilities come to life. I haven’t looked back since that day.”
Most recently, as a senior director of originals for Andscape (formerly known as the Undefeated), Matthews expanded its digital storytelling platform into a multimedia video storytelling division of the Walt Disney Co., developing and producing more than 20 specials. Highlights include “The Stop: Living, Driving and Dying While Black,” “Rise Up,” “Unapologetic,” “The N-Word Special,” “Dear Black Athlete” and “The March on Washington: Keepers of the Dream,” a timely post-George Floyd one-hour documentary in partnership with National Geographic and available on Hulu. She also led the launch of the Black History Always collection on ESPN+, nine documentary films by nine diverse creators sharing stories of Black resilience, joy and excellence beyond the 28 days of February.
While at ESPN, Matthews spearheaded “We the Fans,” a multiplatform storytelling project following the stories of the Chicago Bears faithful of Section 250 in Soldier Field. She also produced original programming for numerous ESPN Studio Shows, including “SportsCenter,” “Outside the Lines,” “College Gameday” and “SC Featured.”
She has received many honors throughout her career, including more than 10 Emmy nominations and over three dozen industry awards, including the Edward R. Murrow Outstanding Journalism Award for her short film “Marko Cheseto: Running for His Life.” She is a 28-time New York Festivals gold medalist, the recipient of two Cablefax Trailer Awards and a National Headliner Award. Matthews’ original ESPN feature “We the Fans — Dallas” won the NLGJA Award for Excellence in Journalism.
As we continue to make this media company more representative of the communities we work and live in, I want to highlight that Matthews is an avid advocate for equality, inclusion and diversity in technology and storytelling. She has participated as a featured panelist at the ESPNW summit, addressing many issues Black women face in the sports and media industries.
In this newly created role, Matthews will oversee the Originals team — the artist formerly known as news video — as it develops original series, documentary projects and continues meeting the day-to-day news needs of the Los Angeles Times. Matthews will also work closely with studio production, “L.A. Times Today” and intellectual property development — as well as with Chris Stone and me — to set the video and Originals strategy as we continue to transform The Times into a modern media company.
We are a newsroom that is breaking down boundaries and silos and leading with courage and empathy — and as such we’re excited to bring in an experienced and decorated executive who has worked at just that over the course of her career.
“I’m beyond excited to join the Los Angeles Times team to reimagine new possibilities and innovative concepts in storytelling and look forward to breaking unprecedented ground together,” added Matthews, who starts Monday.
The goal of L.A. Times Studios and New Initiatives is to expand on the work and to conceive of external partnerships and projects that will help The Times succeed in the long term around audience, revenue and brand. Audience is most important — it’s what everyone on this staff is striving to increase each day. We see these efforts and are so inspired and excited to amplify them. All of our future success will come from reaching the people we can best serve, telling the stories that a broad and diverse audience cares about, and that they can get only from the Los Angeles Times.