New Black Leader at Washington Post

Kevin Merida was named to the highest position a black journalist has had at the paper.

Kevin Merida (Julia Ewan/The Washington Post)
Kevin Merida (Julia Ewan/The Washington Post)

Maynard Grad Is First Black Journalist to Assume the Title

Kevin Merida, national editor at the Washington Post, was named a managing editor at the newspaper Monday, the highest position a black journalist has achieved at the Post.

Marty Baron, the former Boston Globe editor who became Post executive editor in January, called a meeting in the middle of the newsroom and made the announcement in person, a Post staffer told Journal-isms. “The applause and cheers were off the charts. Really joyous moment,” the staffer said. “Kevin appeared to be genuinely touched — and also a bit overwhelmed by the moment.”

Merida, 56, is a 1979 graduate of the Maynard Institute’s Summer Program for Minority Journalists and was named “Journalist of the Year” of the National Association of Black Journalists in 2000. He is also a “Journal-isms” reader.

He messaged, “To Journal-isms readers, I’d say:

“I am extremely honored to be managing editor of The Washington Post. I love our craft and its limitless possibilities. I still believe in what we do. We have a great news organization, with an incredibly dedicated and talented group of journalists. I hope to create more excitement in our newsroom, more energy, more joy.”

Merida succeeds Liz Spayd, who left the newspaper on Thursday, and will share the title with John Temple, the former editor and publisher of the Rocky Mountain News who joined the newspaper as a managing editor last year.

Merida will be responsible for news and features coverage as well as the Universal News Desk.

The last black journalist to be considered for Post managing editor was Eugene Robinson in 2004, when a single person held the title. Robinson instead became a columnist and in 2009 won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary. Robinson, then assistant managing editor for the Style section, had been called the newsroom favorite, and then-executive editor Leonard Downie Jr.’s  failure to selected him prompted questions about the paper’s commitment to diversity and a newsroom committee to examine the question.