By:
April 13, 2021

Some of America’s biggest newsrooms are looking to fill vacancies at the top of their mastheads.

As editors announce new career trajectories or retirement plans, the newsrooms they leave  must assemble search committees and polish up job descriptions. Some of the bigger searches have set off waves of media reporting as onlookers try to guess who might take the top spot. With each passing day bringing a new round of “personal news,” it can be hard to track who’s going where.

So here’s a list of vacant top editor positions, as well as details on who used to occupy them, why they left and which potential replacements search committees might be eyeing. We’ll update this list as positions open up.

Newspapers

Washington Post – Executive Editor

Former: Marty Baron (left Feb. 28)
Next move: Retirement
Interim: Cameron Barr (Washington Post managing editor)
Potential contenders: Barr, Steven Ginsberg (Washington Post national editor), Marc Lacey (New York Times assistant managing editor), Rebecca Blumenstein (New York Times deputy managing editor)

Baron made national headlines in January when he announced his decision to retire after more than eight years at the Post. During his tenure, he grew the newsroom from 580 journalists to more than 1,000 and oversaw coverage that won 10 Pulitzer Prizes. The search for his successor has been the source of intense speculation. Barr and Ginsberg are believed to be strong internal candidates, and potential external candidates include Lacey and Blumenstein, Poynter reported. Vanity Fair confirmed that all four have been scouted or have had “preliminary conversations” with management. Other possible contenders include New York Times deputy managing editor Ryan, National Geographic editor-in-chief Susan Goldberg and Minneapolis Star Tribune editor and senior vice president Rene Sanchez.

Shortly after Baron’s announcement, Washingtonian put out its own list, naming Post executive features editor Liz Seymour and foreign editor Douglas Jehl as other potential internal candidates. External candidates could include former Post journalists like Politico editor-in-chief John Harris and San Francisco Chronicle editor-in-chief Emilio Garcia-Ruiz or outsiders like Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editor George Stanley and NPR senior vice president of news and editorial director Nancy Barnes.

Los Angeles Times – Executive Editor

Former: Norman Pearlstine (left Dec. 14)
Next move: Retirement
Potential contenders: Julia Turner (Los Angeles times deputy managing editor for entertainment, audio and strategy), Carolyn Ryan (New York Times deputy managing editor), Sewell Chan (Los Angeles Times editorial page editor), Kimi Yoshino (Los Angeles times managing editor)

Pearlstine announced his retirement in October after two years at the Los Angeles Times. He joined the Times in June 2018, when it was acquired by Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong; by the time he left, the newsroom was in turmoil after a racial reckoning, a plagiarism scandal and allegations of “ethical lapses” and “bullying behavior” on the part of management.

Soon-Shiong told CNN Business in April that the search has reached “advanced rounds of interviews” and that he has met with most of the candidates. Karen Danziger of Koller Search is assisting with the process. Internal candidates identified early in the search include Yoshino, Chan and Turner, The New York Times reported. That same report revealed that Associated Press executive editor Sally Buzbee and ESPN senior vice president and “The Undefeated” editor-in-chief Kevin Merida are possible external candidates. Ryan of The New York Times may also be in the running. Other names that have been floated by Los Angeles Magazine include Los Angeles Times deputy managing editor Shani O. Hilton and New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet — who some speculate will step down from his current position soon.

Former Hollywood Reporter editorial director Janice Min and Facebook vice president for global curation Anne Kornblut were also in the running but have since pulled out.

Houston Chronicle – Executive Editor

Current: Steve Riley (will leave once replacement is found)
Next move: Retirement

Riley announced in March he planned to retire after more than three years at the Houston Chronicle. Under his leadership, the paper was named Texas’ Newspaper of the Year and Newsroom of the Year by the Associated Press Media Editors. Parent company Hearst Corp. has already begun a search for his successor.

The Seattle Times – Managing Editor

Former: Ray Rivera (left Feb. 21)
Next move: Executive editor of The Oklahoman
Interim: Lynn Jacobson (Seattle Times deputy managing editor)

After more than three years at The Seattle Times, Rivera announced in January he would be leaving to head The Oklahoman. During his tenure at the Times, he oversaw the newsroom’s Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the two crashes of Boeing’s 737 Max. The Times hopes to fill the position within the next four to six weeks, said executive editor Michele Matassa Flores, who is leading the search for Rivera’s successor.

Dallas Morning News – Executive Editor

Former: Mike Wilson (left Dec. 31)
Next move: Deputy sports editor at the New York Times

Wilson announced in September his decision to step down from his post at the Dallas Morning News, capping off a nearly six-year term during which the News was named a Pulitzer Prize finalist three times. Publisher Grant Moise is leading the search for Wilson’s successor.

Chicago Sun-Times – Executive Editor

Former: Chris Fusco (left Oct. 2)
Next move: Founder and executive editor of Lookout Local
Interim: Steve Warmbir (Sun-Times managing editor)

Fusco announced he would leave the Sun-Times in September after 20 years, including three years as its editor-in-chief. The board of the Sun-Times is leading the search and hopes to fill the position by the end of June, CEO Nykia Wright said.

Broadcast

CNN – President

Current: Jeff Zucker (will leave at the end of the year)
Next move: Unannounced
Potential contenders: Ben Sherwood (former president of Disney-ABC Television), Alex Wallace (head of media and content at Verizon), David Rhodes (head of News UK TV), Jim Bell (veteran producer at NBC)

Zucker, who has been president of CNN Worldwide since 2013, announced in February his plans to step down at the end of the year. During his tenure, CNN’s audiences have grown dramatically and the network (and Zucker himself) became a favorite target of attack for former President Donald Trump.

One possible successor is Sherwood, who NBC News reported has been described as one of the most qualified candidates, though Sherwood told NBC he doesn’t expect CNN to reach out. Other names mentioned include former broadcast executives Wallace, Rhodes and Bell. NBC reported that some believe CNN’s parent company, AT&T, will hire two people, one to oversee content, the other to oversee business initiatives. Possible candidates to oversee CNN’s news coverage are CNN executive vice president for talent and content development Amy Entelis, CNN senior vice president of newsgathering Virginia Moseley and “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” executive producer Chris Licht.

GBH News – Executive Editor

This will be a new position for the station.

Magazines

Teen Vogue – Executive Editor and Editor-in-Chief

Former: Samhita Mukhopadhyay (executive editor, left March 19), Alexi McCammond (editor-in-chief, left March 18)
Next moves: Unannounced

Technically McCammond never had a chance to serve as editor-in-chief. She resigned before her first day after facing backlash for racist and homophobic tweets she had written as a college freshman in 2011. Shortly after Condé Nast announced her appointment on March 5, more than 20 Teen Vogue staffers sent a letter to management voicing concern about her hiring. Ulta Beauty and Burt’s Bees also suspended advertising campaigns with Teen Vogue that were collectively worth more than a million dollars.

A day after McCammond announced her resignation, Mukhopadhyay revealed she was also leaving Teen Vogue after three years as executive editor. She had announced her resignation internally before the McCammond controversy, The Hill reported.

Digital

ProPublica – President

Current: Richard Tofel (will leave once replacement is found)
Next move: Retirement, will consult for publishers, teach and write at his Substack

Tofel is ProPublica’s first employee and has been with the nonprofit since its start in 2007. He announced his plans to retire in February and will leave behind a news organization with a $36.5 million budget, 43,000 donors and six Pulitzer Prizes. ProPublica’s board of directors is leading the search with the help of firm Blinkhorn LLC.

Reveal – CEO and Editor-in-Chief

Current: Christa Scharfenberg (CEO, will leave once replacement is found), Matt Thompson (editor-in-chief, left March 5)
Next move: Scharfenberg has not yet announced her plans. Thompson joined the New York Times as editor of its Headway project.
Interim EIC: Sumi Aggarwal (Reveal managing editor)

Scharfenberg and Thompson both announced in January their plans to leave Reveal this year after 18 years and two years at the nonprofit, respectively. Under Scharfenberg’s leadership, Reveal launched its award-winning reporting initiative California Watch. The board of directors will lead the CEO search and has retained a firm to help with the process, according to COO Annie Chabel.

Center for Public Integrity – CEO

Former: Susan Smith Richardson (left March 12)
Next move: Deputy editor of The Guardian US
Interim: Kate Myers (interim COO, former First Look Media executive director)

After nearly two years at CPI, Smith Richardson announced in January that she would be leaving for a position at The Guardian US. A committee comprising six members of CPI’s board of directors is leading the search for her successor and has retained the firm Sally Sterling Executive Search.

Concluded searches

Reuters – Editor-in-Chief

Former: Stephen J. Adler (left April 1)
Next move: Retirement, will focus on his work as a member of the boards of Columbia Journalism Review, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the Committee to Protect Journalists
Successor: Alessandra Galloni (Reuters global managing editor)

Appointed editor-in-chief in 2011, Adler has overseen the news service through seven Pulitzer Prizes. Reuters began the search for his replacement shortly after he announced his retirement in January.Galloni, who has been at Reuters for the past eight years, will take charge of the newsroom April 19, Reuters reported. She will be the first woman to hold the position. Other internal candidates for the role included global managing editor of operations Gina Chua and global managing editor Simon Robinson. Among the external candidates were The Globe and Mail editor-in-chief David Walmsley and Reset Work editor-in-chief and The Information senior editor Kevin Delaney.

ABC News – President

Former: James Goldston (left March 31)
Next move: Unannounced
Successor: Kim Godwin (CBS News executive vice president of news)

After 17 years at ABC News, seven of which he spent as president, Goldston announced in January he would leave the network at the end of March. Walt Disney Company TV chair Peter Rice established an “Office of the President” comprising Goldston and five other ABC News executives to search for the next president.

The committee has selected Godwin, who is in the final stages of negotiations, NBC News reported in April. Godwin will become the first Black woman to head a broadcast network news division. She has spent the past 14 years at CBS, ascending to her current position as executive vice president of news in 2019.

Other people who were considered for the role include ABC News senior vice president of integrated content strategy Marie Nelson, NBC veteran producer Jim Bell, ABC Owned Television Stations Group president Wendy McMahon, KGO-TV president and general manager Tom Cibrowski and CNN Washington bureau chief Sam Feist, Variety reported.

If you have tips about ongoing searches or new positions opening up at major U.S. newsrooms, please email us at angelafu7@gmail.com. This article was originally published March 30 and last updated April 13. 

Correction: Rene Sanchez is editor and senior vice president for The Star Tribune, not senior managing editor. We regret the error.

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Angela Fu is a freelance reporter based in Birmingham, Ala. and a contributor to Poynter.org. She can be reached at angelafu7@gmail.com or on Twitter @angelanfu.
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