T-Squared: Sewell Chan is The Texas Tribune’s next editor-in-chief

Sewell Chan.
Sewell Chan.

I’m overjoyed to tell you that Sewell Chan, the current editorial page editor and former deputy managing editor of the Los Angeles Times, will be The Texas Tribune’s next editor-in-chief! He’s a catch, and landing him is a coup. Prior to his stint on the West Coast these last three years, Sewell spent 14 years at The New York Times — most recently as international news editor, and before that as deputy op-ed editor, Washington correspondent, and metro reporter and bureau chief. He began his stellar career as a local news reporter at The Washington Post.

Sewell was one of several exceptionally strong applicants to emerge from our national search for a newsroom leader. A visionary journalist with a commitment to innovation, he has a sophisticated sense of the relationship between civic engagement and a healthy democracy — never more important than in a moment when more Texans than ever are clamoring for reliable, credible nonpartisan journalism. He’s terrific at every aspect of the job, from writing and editing and to inspiring and marshaling the troops. By reputation, he outworks everyone in our business. We’re so excited to have a steady hand on the wheel and a fresh set of eyes on everything we do and how we do it.

Also: He’s a fine person. In the words of his fellow News Leaders Association board member Manny García, the editor of the Austin American-Statesman, “Sewell is a healer.” At the end of a cruel year and a half of news that took a toll on every one of us, we’re ready to be on the road to recovery. An EIC with Sewell’s gentle, empathetic, collaborative style, with his humility and modesty, and with his winning personality is a must have. We’ll be in great hands.

Sewell, 43, will be our fifth newsroom leader in the nearly 12 years the Tribune has been reporting on politics and policy and holding people in power and institutions accountable. He and Liam Andrew, recently appointed chief product officer after a stint as our director of engineering, are the latest additions to the Tribune’s senior management team.

A bit more about Sewell’s work experience. At the Los Angeles Times, he has been one of the architects of an iconic institution’s revival. Since arriving there in 2018 after its ownership and editorial leadership changed hands, he has overseen coverage of criminal justice reform that won the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing; authored the lead editorial in a series on the LAT’s record with communities of color and employees of color; overseen foreign/national news, the home page, digital operations and audience engagement; led the merger of the data and graphics teams into a unified department; and helped lead a near-doubling of digital-only subscriptions between 2018 and 2020.

At The New York Times, working variously in New York, Washington and London, he oversaw breaking news in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, including the EU migration crisis, terrorist attacks and Brexit; worked to overhaul the Sunday Review section, edited essays by scholars, thinkers and policymakers, and helped launch the NYT Opinion mobile app and the Op-Docs video series; reported on the Federal Reserve, the G20, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Treasury Department and the Obama administration’s response to the global financial crisis; covered the Bloomberg administration; started the City Room blog, an early step in the paper’s digital transformation; and was part of a team awarded the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News for coverage of the Eliot Spitzer scandal.

This only scratches the surface. We’re so fortunate to attract someone of his caliber and character.

A native of New York City, Sewell has an undergraduate degree from Harvard University (he was the first in his immigrant family to graduate from college) and a master’s degree from the University of Oxford, where he was a Marshall Scholar.

Sewell’s first day in his new job will be Oct. 18 (although you’re likely to see him in Austin for several weeks before, including on a panel at the Tribune Festival alongside other Texas news leaders). Please join me in congratulating him and welcoming him to the Trib.

Join us Sept. 20-25 at the 2021 Texas Tribune Festival. Tickets are on sale now for this multi-day celebration of big, bold ideas about politics, public policy and the day’s news, curated by The Texas Tribune’s award-winning journalists. Learn more.