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Los Angeles Times’ Sewell Chan named Texas Tribune editor

Sewell Chan smiles in a portrait.
Los Angeles Times’ editorial pages editor Sewell Chan joined the paper nearly three years ago.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Sewell Chan, the Los Angeles Times’ editorial pages editor, is leaving the company to become editor in chief of the Texas Tribune.

The Tribune announced Thursday that it has hired the veteran journalist and native New Yorker to lead its newsroom in Austin. The nonprofit organization has been on the hunt for a new leader since former editorial director Stacy-Marie Ishmael departed earlier this year, citing burnout during the pandemic.

Chan, 43, has been a senior editor of The Times for nearly three years. The former international news editor at the New York Times was among the first wave of high-level journalists to join the newsroom as part of a hiring spree to replenish the paper’s withered ranks after Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong and his wife, Michele Soon-Shiong, acquired the paper for $500 million from then-Tribune Co. The Soon-Shiongs have spent heavily to bolster its journalism.

Chan initially served as a deputy managing editor, then he switched gears to become editor of The Times’ opinion section in April 2020. He was a candidate for the top job that ultimately went to Kevin Merida, who succeeded Norman Pearlstine, who stepped down in December.

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“I want to thank Sewell for being ‘all in’ and approaching each team he worked with and project he took on with urgency, curiosity and professionalism,” Dr. Soon-Shiong said in an email to The Times’ staff Thursday.

Los Angeles Times ownership refutes Wall Street Journal report of a sale.

Chan’s last day with The Times will be Sept. 3. He plans to move to Texas and join the Tribune’s staff by Oct. 18.

“I love the L.A. Times and feel more optimistic than ever about its future,” Chan said in an interview. “I’ve been proud of all the work my team has done, but the opportunity to direct the work in a state that is going to be politically pivotal — with such issues as voting rights, climate change, demographics, technology and abortion rights — seemed too good to pass up.”

The Tribune is a nonprofit digital news organization that boasts the largest state Capitol bureau in Texas. It has about 10,000 members who support the journalism even though the website is free to readers. With a 50-person newsroom, the Tribune specializes in accountability journalism with a focus on public policy, politics, government, immigration and statewide issues.

It was founded in 2009 by venture capitalist John Thornton and veteran journalists Evan Smith and Ross Ramsey.

Terry Tang, Op-Ed and Sunday Opinion editor, will assume Chan’s duties on an interim basis and reports to Soon-Shiong. Tang joined The Times in July 2019 from the American Civil Liberties Union, where she was director of publications and editorial for two years. Before that, Tang spent 20 years at the New York Times in a variety of roles, including deputy editorial page editor, Op-Ed Editor and deputy technology editor. She was the first Asian American to join that paper’s group of senior editors, known as the masthead.

Tang also is a member of the L.A. Times’ masthead, and is a graduate of Yale University and New York University Law School.

In June, L.A. Times editorial board member Robert Greene was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for opinion writing.


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