The revered newspaper The Washington Post has hired its first African-American managing editor. Kevin Merida will be promoted to the slot vacated last month by Liz Spayd.
“[Merida] is a journalist of remarkable accomplishment, but also a warm and caring colleague. And he has a record of proven leadership,” executive editor Martin Baron wrote in a morning memo to staff, reports the newspaper.
Merida, 56, joined the paper in 1993 to cover Congress and after covering the 1996 presidential race, he was moved to the Style section, becoming a long-form feature writer. He was coordinating editor of the Post’s yearlong 2006 award-winning series, “Being a Black Man,” which later formed the basis for an anthology published by Public Affairs Books.
In his new position, Merida will be responsible for news and features coverage as well as the Universal News Desk.
For the past four years, Merida has been the Post’s national editor. During his tenure, several new sections were added to the paper, such as Fact Checker and a new blog, She the People, to showcase the voices of women.
Merida is also the co-author of the biography Supreme Discomfort: The Divided Soul of Clarence Thomas and co-author of the bestselling Obama: The Historic Campaign in Photographs.
After graduating from Boston University in 1979 with a degree in journalism, Merida started his journalism career at The Milwaukee Journal, where he was a general assignment reporter and a rotating editor on the city desk. He joined The Dallas Morning News in 1983, where he served as a special projects reporter, local political writer, national writer, White House correspondent and assistant managing editor in charge of foreign and national news coverage.
He follows in the footsteps of Simeon Booker, who paved the way for Merida when he became the first full-time African-Amerian reporter at the Washington Post in 1952. Booker was recently recognized by the National Association of Black Journalists with their highest honor, induction into the organization’s Hall of Fame, reports EUR. Booker, according to EUR, said the experience of desegregating the Post “damned near killed me.”
The newspaper has come a long way since 1952.