Kevin Merida, 56, is managing editor of The Washington Post, and oversees all news and features coverage. Prior to becoming managing editor, he was national editor for four years, supervising the staff that is responsible for coverage of Congress and the White House, national politics, national security, health, science and the environment, national enterprise and most federal agencies. During that time, National staffers were twice finalists for Pulitzer Prizes and produced the first definitive book on changes to the nation’s health care system, Landmark: The Inside Story of America’s New Health Care Law and What It Means for Us All.
Merida is co-author of the bestselling book, Obama: The Historic Campaign in Photographs, published by HarperCollins in 2008. He also is co-author of the critically acclaimed biography, Supreme Discomfort: The Divided Soul of Clarence Thomas, published by Doubleday in 2007. That book, which was featured on the cover of The New York Times Book Review, was awarded the nonfiction prize in the inaugural Essence Literary Awards competition.
Merida is a former associate editor at the Post who has written broadly for the paper over the past 20 years, handled special editing assignments, and helped to develop and coach younger staffers. He covered the 2008 presidential campaign as a roving feature writer.
Merida was the coordinating editor of the Post’s yearlong 2006 series, "Being a Black Man", which won numerous awards, including a Peabody for its multimedia components. The series was the basis of an anthology, Being a Black Man: At the Corner of Progress and Peril, published by PublicAffairs Books in August 2007 and edited by Merida.
During his 33-year career in journalism, Merida’s assignments have ranged from investigating organized dogfighting to covering the U.S. invasion of Panama, from supervising coverage of the Gulf War to covering the Bush 41 White House. One of his special interests is national politics; he has covered or supervised the reporting of seven presidential campaigns.
Merida was born in Wichita, Kan., in 1957, and grew up in the Washington, D.C. area. He graduated from Boston University in 1979 with a degree in journalism. He is also a 1979 graduate of the Summer Program for Minority Journalists at the University of California at Berkeley.
Merida started his career at The Milwaukee Journal in 1979, serving as a general assignments reporter and rotating city desk editor. He left the Journal in 1983 for The Dallas Morning News.
During nearly 10 years at the Morning News, Merida served as a special projects reporter, local political writer, national reporter, White House correspondent and assistant managing editor in charge of foreign and national news coverage.
Merida came to The Washington Post in 1993 to cover Congress. He chronicled the Newt Gingrich revolution, wrote about reform efforts and feisty freshmen and the culture of Capitol Hill. He joined the paper’s national campaign reporting team to cover the ‘96 presidential race. In June 1997, he joined the Style section staff and developed a niche as a long-form feature writer. His subjects included George W. Bush’s intellect, Strom Thurmond’s age, Trent Lott’s history with race, Hillary Clinton’s internal struggles as the woman married to Bill, the killing of Lee Marshall over a North Face jacket, and the coming of age of 18-year-old NBA rookie Tracy McGrady. In 2000, Merida began writing a column called “Side Streets” for the Post’s Sunday magazine. The column became syndicated.
Merida has won many awards, among them a 2006 Vernon Jarrett Medal for feature writing, a 2005 Distinguished Alumni Award from Boston University’s College of Journalism and six awards from the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), including being named NABJ’s “Journalist of the Year” in 2000. He also has been honored by the American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 1990 as part of a Dallas Morning News team reporting on the world’s hidden wars. His books have twice won awards from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association.
Merida has appeared on numerous television and radio programs, including NPR’s All Things Considered, CBS’s Face the Nation and the Early Show, PBS’s NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, and the Tom Joyner Morning Show. During the 2008 presidential campaign, he was a contributing political analyst to MSNBC and a rotating panelist on NPR’s News & Notes.
He has taught journalism at Marquette University and in Boston University’s Washington journalism program. In 2004, he was a public policy scholar with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He serves on the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards board.
Merida lives in Silver Spring, Md., with his wife, author and commentator Donna Britt. They have three sons, ages 31, 27 and 17 and a dog, Woofer.