The Washington Post

Washington Times editor steps down after 15 months

The Washington Times said Tuesday it was replacing its top editor, whom the newspaper had named to the job only 15 months ago.

In an internal memo, the paper’s new president and chief executive, Larry Beasley, said editor Ed Kelley was “stepping down to pursue new opportunities.” No replacement has been named.

Kelley was named editor in June 2011 following a long period of infighting over the paper’s direction by heirs of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the Unification Church patriarch who had founded the Times as a conservative voice in Washington in 1982. Moon died last month at 92.

Before joining the Times, Kelley had been the editor of the Oklahoman newspaper in Oklahoma City. He was not available for comment Tuesday.

His departure appears to be part of a shake-up instituted by Beasley, who said in his memo that he intends to move the Times toward profitability for the first time in its history by emphasizing digital news over the printed kind and expanding its audience nationally. Kelley said that that was his intent as well when he was hired last year.

Beasley declined a request to comment on Kelley’s departure.

Beasley, a consultant to the Times and other media companies who was named to his post on Friday, is the first non-church member to hold the top position at the Times. He replaced Thomas P. McDevitt, who was named chairman.

Beasley was a general manager at the St. Petersburg Times before retiring from the paper in 2007. He also served as chief executive of the Los Angeles Daily News when it was owned by Jack Kent Cooke, the late former owner of the Washington Redskins.

An investor group led by Moon asserted control over the Times in 2010 from a faction headed by Moon’s eldest son, Preston. The elder Moon had handed the paper to Preston Moon four years earlier, but his tenure was dominated by a dispute with his three siblings over its direction and finances. The family quarrel became so contentious that Preston Moon at one point threatened to shut the publication down, people at the newspaper said.

The ownership dispute coincided with a steep slide in the Times’s print circulation. The paper’s circulation from Monday to Friday fell by about half, from 100,257 in 2007 to around 50,000 last year. More recent figures weren’t available.

Paul Farhi is The Washington Post's media reporter.



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