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LA Times Managing Editors Shani Hilton, Sara Yasin Step Down During Layoff Negotiations

Los Angeles Times managing editors Shani Hilton and Sara Yasin have stepped down amid continuing negotiations on staff layoffs.

Hilton and Yasin were two of the four editors leading the paper after the exit of executive editor Kevin Merida earlier this month.

Yasin’s resignation memo was sent to Times staffers on Monday. In it, she wrote, “I’d like to share some bittersweet news with you. I’ve decided to leave the L.A. Times.”

Yasin continued, “This is a decision I’ve been considering for a long time, for reasons both professional and personal. The short version: I’d like to do something different.” She thanked Merida and the “legion of journalists who embraced me,” but did not mention owner Patrick Soon-Shiong.

Hilton’s profile has already been updated on the Times’ site, which reads, “Shani Hilton is the former Managing Editor…”

An LA Times staffer confirmed both departures, noting that Hilton resigned last week. TheWrap also obtained an internal memo sent Monday by deputy managing editor Julia Turner that noted Hilton’s decision to leave “had been in the works for a while and was not prompted by Kevin’s departure.”

Turner mentioned that managers at the Times were supposed to inform their teams about Hilton’s departure, but that “not everyone may have received the message.”

With the two new exits, Turner wrote that she and Scott Kraft, formerly editor at large at the paper, “are now responsible for all editorial operations.” She added, “we are advocating for editorial interests in conversations with the company about the financial crisis we face.”

The LA Times Guild staged a one-day work stoppage on Friday to protest planned layoffs of up to 100 staffers. Union members have clashed with management over the request to waive their seniority protections.

Bargaining committee member Jaclyn Cosgrove told TheWrap on Friday, “Asking us to gut seniority for a contract in exchange for buyouts is typical union busting. They’re trying to pit us against each other. And our members are smarter than that. They’re journalists.”

The union is asking that Times management provide three things: a specific head count or salary reduction, a town hall with management and the opportunity for the union to be part of selecting the next executive editor, after Merida’s abrupt exit.

“Under our contracts, LA Times management can, in fact, lay off as many journalists as it likes,” Matt Pearce, a Times reporter since 2012 and president of the guild, told TheWrap on Friday. “We always prefer buyouts, ways that would allow people to leave the company voluntarily rather than involuntarily… Layoffs should be conducted in some way by seniority order, and that’s what management does not want to do.”

Semafor’s Max Tani first reported the managing editors’ exits.

Yasin was the subject of headlines in October, after she was accused by a media watchdog group of Hamas-related bias concerning the paper’s coverage of the Israeli war in Gaza. The Times subsequently called the watchdog’s report, which cited Yasin’s social media reposts, “inaccurate, irresponsible and reckless.”

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