By:
May 11, 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

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.

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

Former: Christa Scharfenberg (CEO, left May 1), 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 CEO: Annie Chabel (Reveal chief operating officer)
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 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.

Other

Associated Press – Executive Editor

Current: Sally Buzbee (will leave end of May)
Next move: Washington Post executive editor

After The Washington Post named Buzbee its new top editor, The Associated Press announced it will begin searching for her replacement. Buzbee has served as the AP’s executive editor since 2017. During that time, the AP won a Pulitzer Prize for its reporting on the war in Yemen. She has reported and edited for the AP since 1988. The AP expects the search for her successor to take a few months.

Concluded searches

Washington Post – Executive Editor

Former: Marty Baron (left Feb. 28)
Next move: Retired
Successor: Sally Buzbee (Associated Press executive editor and senior vice president)

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 was a source of intense speculation. In May, The Washington Post announced Buzbee would assume the role in June. She was also a candidate in the recently concluded Los Angeles Times’ executive editor search.

Other external candidates The Washington Post considered include New York Times assistant managing editor Marc Lacey and New York Times deputy managing editor Rebecca Blumenstein. Internal candidates included managing editor Cameron Barr and national editor Steven Ginsberg.

Teen Vogue – Editor-in-Chief

Former: Alexi McCammond (left March 18)
Next move: Unannounced
Successor: Versha Sharma (NowThis managing editor)

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.

Condé Nast announced in May that Sharma would be the publication’s next editor-in-chief. She will be the first South Asian American to hold the position.

Los Angeles Times – Executive Editor

Former: Norman Pearlstine (left Dec. 14)
Next move: Retired
Successor: ESPN senior vice president and “The Undefeated” editor-in-chief Kevin Merida

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.

After a five-month search, the Los Angeles Times announced in May that Merida would be the paper’s next executive editor. He will be the third person of color in the paper’s 139-year history to hold the position. Karen Danziger of Koller Search helped lead the search, which identified managing editor Kimi Yoshino; editorial page editor Sewell Chan; and deputy managing editor for entertainment, audio and strategy Julia Turner as internal candidates early in the process, The New York Times reported. That same report revealed that Associated Press executive editor Sally Buzbee, New York Times deputy managing editor Carolyn Ryan and New York Times assistant managing editor Marc Lacey were external candidates.

Teen Vogue – Executive Editor

Former: Samhita Mukhopadhyay (left March 19)
Next move: Unannounced
Successor: Danielle Kwateng (Teen Vogue entertainment and culture director)

A day after Alexi McCammond announced her resignation as editor-in-chief, 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.

In an April letter to the site, Kwateng announced she would be taking over as executive editor after two years at the magazine.

CBS News – President

Current: Susan Zirinsky (will leave in May)
Next move: A production partnership with ViacomCBS Inc.
Successors: Neeraj Khemlani (Hearst Newspapers executive vice president) and Wendy McMahon (ABC Owned Television Stations Group president)

Zirinsky, the first female president of CBS News, is close to signing a production deal with parent company ViacomCBS, The Wall Street Journal reported in April. She has been at CBS News since she was 20 years old and was named president in 2019.

After a monthslong search, ViacomCBS signed a deal with Khemlani and McMahon, NBC News reported. Khemlani and McMahon will co-lead a new unit combining CBS News and CBS Television Stations and are set to assume their roles early May.

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 May 11. 

Correction: Rene Sanchez is editor and senior vice president for The Star Tribune, not senior managing editor. Also, a previous version of the story misspelled Sewell Chan’s name. We regret the errors.

Support high-integrity, independent journalism that serves democracy. Make a gift to Poynter today. The Poynter Institute is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, and your gift helps us make good journalism better.
Donate
Angela Fu is a freelance reporter based in Birmingham, Ala. and a contributor to Poynter.org. She can be reached at afu@poynter.org or on Twitter @angelanfu.
More by Angela Fu

More News

Back to News