Managing Editor Douglas Frantz will leave The Times to become Middle East bureau chief of the Wall Street Journal, he announced Thursday.
The former foreign correspondent served nearly two years as one of the paper's top editors. "I felt like I had done as much as I could in this job. My true love is reporting and writing," said Frantz, who in his new position will be based in Istanbul, Turkey, his home for many years before moving to Los Angeles.
His last day will be July 6.
Frantz, 57, worked for The Times from 1987 to 1993 as a business reporter and investigative reporter in the Washington bureau. After a stint at the New York Times, he returned in 2003 as an investigative reporter based in Istanbul. He became managing editor in October 2005.
"This is a great newspaper filled with great people," he said. "I'm sure it will continue to pursue excellence in journalism. I'm sorry I won't be around."
Times Editor James E. O'Shea called Frantz "a solid leader, guiding the editorial department through some troubled and rugged days. He is an extraordinary journalist and a dedicated editor who cares deeply about the newspaper and the staff."
The Times has been roiled by management turmoil in recent years. O'Shea is the paper's fourth editor since 2000, when Tribune Co. bought it as part of its acquisition of Times Mirror Co. The paper has struggled along with the entire industry as advertising revenue and readership have declined.
Tribune has agreed to be taken private in a pending deal led by investor Sam Zell.
Frantz's replacement will be named shortly, O'Shea said. "I'll be focusing my attention on existing staff. We have plenty of good candidates."
Frantz recently was embroiled in an emotionally charged personnel issue. A group of Armenian Americans called for Frantz's ouster after he blocked the publication of an article on the Armenian genocide of the early 20th century. Frantz said the story's author, Times reporter Mark Arax, who is of Armenian descent, could not be objective about the topic. Arax objected and resigned this month.
Frantz said he wasn't leaving because of the controversy.
Wall Street Journal Managing Editor Marcus Brauchli said Frantz was offered the job after top executives reviewed his handling of the Armenian story. He called Frantz "a journalist of great distinction and talent."
Frantz is a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist. He was recognized for a Los Angeles Times series chronicling the arming of Iraq before the 1991 Persian Gulf War and for a New York Times series on the Church of Scientology.
Times staff writer Joseph Menn contributed to this report.