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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Indian-origin journalist Davan Maharaj named editor of LA Times

Davan MaharajDavan Maharaj, the Indian-origin managing editor at LA Times has been named as the new editor and executive vice president of the Los Angeles Times. He will take the place of Russ Stanton, under whose leadership the paper to three Pulitzer Prizes

Maharaj, 49, will become the paper's 15th editor after Stanton departs Dec. 23. Maharaj has worked at the paper for 22 years, including as a correspondent in Africa.

Davan Maharaj was named managing editor of the Los Angeles Times in May 2008, with oversight of the Foreign, National, Metro, Sports and Business departments. He is responsible for shaping coverage, deploying people and overseeing personnel decisions with Editor Russ Stanton.

Maharaj has worked as a reporter for The Times in Orange County, Los Angeles and East Africa. His six-part series "Living on Pennies," in collaboration with Times photographer Francine Orr, won the 2005 Ernie Pyle Award for Human Interest Writing and inspired readers to donate tens of thousands of dollars to aid agencies working in Africa. Closer to home, Maharaj's investigative report about a Leisure World attorney who inherited millions of dollars in stock, land and other "gifts" from his clients led to changes in California probate law.

Maharaj has been an assistant foreign editor and, in Business, served as a deputy editor before assuming leadership of the department last year. During Maharaj's tenure, the Business section revamped its coverage to give greater emphasis to consumer issues. It also redesigned its Sunday section to focus on personal finances.

A native of Trinidad with a political science degree from the University of Tennessee and a master's degree in law from Yale, Maharaj became Business editor in 2007, emphasizing greater coverage of consumer issues and personal finance. He has been managing editor for news since 2008, with responsibility for the foreign, national, metro, sports and business staffs.

"I am humbled and honored to lead one of the most talented and resilient newsrooms in the nation," Maharaj said. "Our commitment to delivering high-quality journalism remains unwavering."

The Times is owned by Chicago-based Tribune Co., which is mired in a three-year bankruptcy case, a prolonged legal saga that underscores the dramatic shifts roiling the newspaper industry in the evolving digital age.

Online readership has surged at The Times and some other newspapers in recent years, but the industry has failed to turn that into significant advertising gains. Meanwhile, print readership has continued to decline throughout the industry, eating into revenue and led newspapers into a series of cutbacks.

Dean Baquet, who served as editor of The Times and is now managing editor for news at the New York Times, described Maharaj as "a very ambitious, energetic, honorable guy."

"He always has had big ambitions for the paper," said Baquet, who left the Los Angeles Times in 2006 in a dispute over staff cuts. "You've got a guy who's running the paper who's a journalist."

Times columnist Steve Lopez said he hated to see Stanton go, saying "I'm not sure why he's suddenly leaving." He added, "Davan knows L.A., cares about the journalism and is willing to fight for the people who produce it."

Circulation of The Times' print edition has declined at a faster pace than many of its competitors', with average daily circulation sagging 21% since early 2009.

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