Shaun King, who currently writes for the Daily Kos and has 187,000 Twitter followers, will start at the Daily News on October 15 as the paper's senior justice writer, a newly-created role. King has followed issues of police brutality and racism in the criminal justice system closely and will continue to be based in Atlanta while writing for the Daily News.
"Shaun's writing on social inequality, police brutality and race relations in America has been some of the best work done in the country," Executive Editor Jim Rich said in a memo obtained by CNN Money. "His passion and attention to detail on topics that are of critical importance to our readers -- both online and in print -- make him a perfect fit for the Daily News."
King's hiring comes amid a wrenching shake-up at the Daily News that saw many of its veteran reporters and editors dismissed. The paper, once described as New York City's hometown paper with the mission of chasing down municipal corruption, is seen as repositioning itself in the digital environment with a more global focus, the New York Times reports.
The lay-offs happened swiftly, with some people learning of their job losses while on vacation or when they arrived at work to find an intern in their seat.
The Times describes the shakeup at its smaller competitor as a "disembowelment."
King was recently the focus of controversy when the conservative website Breitbart accused him of being white while passing himself off as mixed race, citing a blogger and circumstantial evidence.
King was forced to counter the accusation by revealing the white man listed on his birth certificate is not his biological father, and that he was conceived when his mother had an affair with an African-American man.
"“She was a young woman in a bad relationship and I have no judgment," he said about it at the time. "This has been my lived reality for nearly 30 of my 35 years on earth. I am not ashamed of it, or of who I am — never that — but I was advised by my pastor nearly 20 years ago that this was not a mess of my doing and it was not my responsibility to fix it."
CNN Money points out that hiring a writer who is publicly associated with an activist group represents a shift in newspapers' approach to journalism.
"Journalism is moving towards more partisan coverage," Kelly McBride, vice president at the Poynter Institute, told CNN. "This paper already seems to have a point of view and this hire makes a lot of sense."