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Hector Becerra named managing editor of The Times

Los Angeles Times reporter Hector Becerra
Hector Becerra, a veteran Times journalist and Los Angeles native, has been named managing editor of the paper. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Veteran Los Angeles Times journalist Hector Becerra has been named managing editor of the newspaper.

Interim Executive Editor Terry Tang announced the appointment Tuesday, delivering on her promise to quickly install a second-in-command to stabilize a newsroom that has been rocked this month by significant layoffs, a one-day strike by journalists and several high-level departures.

Becerra, a native Angeleno who grew up in Boyle Heights, becomes the highest-ranking Latino editor in The Times’ long history. His appointment is effective immediately.

He joined the paper nearly 25 years ago, first working for the Orange County edition before being promoted to the main newsroom in downtown Los Angeles, where he worked as a general assignment reporter for more than a decade.

“His commitment to journalism, his integrity and his dedication to The Times have long earned him the deep respect of his colleagues,” Tang said in a note to the staff. “His ability to lead through change and ensure that we're focusing our resources on the issues and stories that matter most to our readers is precisely what we will need to meet the challenges now.”

Becerra, 51, was part of the team of reporters that won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for public service for coverage of the city of Bell corruption scandal. He was city editor for the California section from 2017 until 2022, when he was promoted to deputy managing editor, leading the Metro and California sections, the paper’s largest staff.

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Becerra graduated from Theodore Roosevelt High School and Cal State Los Angeles, where he served as editor of the University Times. He covered wildfires, issues of homelessness and the effects of crime on families. He once spent the day picking strawberries in Santa Maria and shared the experience with readers.

He wrote movingly about his late father, a Mexican immigrant who came to California without documentation to provide for his family. His father (who became a legal resident in 1980) was a voracious reader, including of The Times.

Read more: My father came here illegally. But in many ways he was a red-blooded American

The move comes during a difficult period for The Times. Earlier this month, then-Executive Editor Kevin Merida announced his departure from The Times after tensions with the paper’s owner, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong. Two managing editors — Sara Yasin and Shani Hilton — also resigned.

Last week, Soon-Shiong named Tang to serve as interim executive editor. She previously served as editor of the editorial page and oversaw the Op-Ed section.

Tang is the first female editor in the paper’s 142-year history and the highest-ranking Asian American editor.

In turning to Tang, a respected journalist who previously worked at the New York Times, Soon-Shiong selected a leader with whom he had already established trust.

A week ago, The Times laid off at least 115 people — or more than 20% of the newsroom — in one of its largest workforce reductions ever.

Soon-Shiong ordered the cuts, saying the organization could no longer lose $30 million to $40 million a year without making progress toward building higher readership that would bring in advertising and subscriptions to sustain it.

Since acquiring The Times in 2018 for $500 million, the owner and his family have covered more than $100 million in capital costs and operational losses. Soon-Shiong has pledged to continue investing in The Times.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.