Julia Turner resigns from executive role at Los Angeles Times

Julia Turner. (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)
Julia Turner is the fourth high-ranking editor to leave The Times since early January. (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

Julia Turner, who led culture and entertainment coverage for the Los Angeles Times before taking on a business strategy role, announced Tuesday that she was leaving the paper.

"The time has come for me to explore other ways to contribute to the mission of strengthening, protecting and preserving news in the digital age," Turner said in a note to the staff. "It has been an extraordinary privilege to be part of this newsroom — one of the most talented and tenacious this industry has ever produced. I leave a stronger, better, braver journalist, thanks to all of you."

Turner becomes the fourth high-ranking editor to step down since early January.

Her decision comes less than two weeks after the paper’s owner, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, installed Terry Tang as interim executive editor after Kevin Merida abruptly departed on Jan. 12 amid increased tensions with Soon-Shiong.

Tang has since sought to calm a newsroom roiled by about 115 layoffs and high-level departures by quickly forming her leadership team, including promoting Hector Becerra to managing editor, her second-in-command.

Read more: L.A. Times Executive Editor Kevin Merida to step down

Until Tang's appointment, Turner and Editor at Large Scott Kraft led the newsroom during a period of great anxiety, including a historic one-day strike by members of the newsroom guild and the layoffs, which saw the newsroom shrink by more than 20%.

Turner served as senior vice president for content business strategy to bridge the gap between the newsroom and executives on the business side since last March. She previously was deputy managing editor for entertainment and strategy, running The Times’ coverage of culture and entertainment. She briefly oversaw Sports.

A thoughtful editor, she encouraged the entertainment staff to elevate its journalism with the goal of becoming an essential read by culture aficionados, Los Angeles residents and those who work in the industry.

Her staff aggressively pursued investigations, including stories that sparked an industry boycott of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. and Golden Globes. Members of her team won or were finalists for Pulitzer Prizes three times during her tenure.

"Julia Turner is leaving the company after five years of distinguished service. We are grateful to her for her editorial and strategic leadership, and for the ways in which she has made us a stronger and better institution," Chris Argentieri, president and chief operating officer of The Times, said in a statement.

Read more: Los Angeles Times owner appoints Terry Tang as interim editor

Turner joined The Times in November 2018, after 15 years at the online magazine Slate, where she served as editor in chief for four years. She remained a host of Slate's "Culture Gabfest" podcast.

"I am so grateful to our owners for saving the Los Angeles Times six years ago, and for inviting me to be part of the great project of developing a sustainable future for this profoundly important institution," Turner said. "I leave heartened by the knowledge that the newsroom has passionate and capable leaders in place, and that this company is filled with people committed to continuing the fight."

She will join the USC Annenberg Center for Communication Leadership & Policy as a senior fellow to look at ways to develop new, sustainable business models to preserve and protect journalism and strengthen community and democracy, particularly in Southern California, according to the university.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.