Russ Stanton, editor and executive vice president of the Los Angeles Times, announced Tuesday he will leave the publication Dec. 23. Managing editor Davan Maharaj will succeed Stanton.

Stanton, 52, joined the LA Times as a business reporter in 1997 and was appointed to the publication’s top editorial position in 2008.

His four-year tenure coincided with seismic shifts in the publishing industry.

Since he took over, the Times has reduced its editorial staff from more than 900 to about 550 today. Daily circulation has fallen from about 1 million copies in the early 1990’s to 572,998, according to the latest audited statement released Nov.1. Corporate parent Tribune Co. filed for bankruptcy protection in 2008.

A statement released by the Times touted digital advances made under Stanton, noting that some 17 million unique readers visit the publication’s online web sites and mobile applications each month. The publication also won three Pulitzer Prizes with Stanton as editor, one of which came this year for coverage of political corruption in the city of Bell.

“Russ Stanton has been an outstanding editor for the Los Angeles Times over the past four years,” said Times President Kathy Thomson. “As he moves on to the next phase of his career, we are extremely fortunate to have someone as talented and experienced as Davan Maharaj, who can step in immediately with energy and vision for how to continue The Times’ advancement in the digital age.”

Maharaj, 49, has worked at the paper for 22 years, with stints in Orange County, Los Angeles and East Africa. He was named managing editor in 2008 after working as business editor. A native of Trinidad, Maharaj has an undergraduate degree from the University of Tennessee and a law degree from Yale University.

The Times did not disclose Stanton’s plans after leaving the paper.

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