Alan Rusbridger to step down as editor-in-chief of The Guardian

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 8.54.06 AMAlan Rusbridger is stepping down as editor-in-chief of The Guardian and will become chairman of the newspaper’s owner, the Scott Trust.

Rusbridger is considered one of the most forward-thinking and experienced newspaper editors in the world, and was involved in setting up the local operation of the British publisher last year.

He will leave the role he has held for 20 years in mid 2015 and take over from Liz Forgan at the trust in 2016 when her term at the helm comes to an end.

Rusbridger, currently in Australia as part of the first Guardian Live events in the country, said the newspaper has “strong future leaders in place with unparalleled news and digital experience”.

“I know that our journalism will be in the best possible hands,” he said.

He told The Guardian: “I am honoured to succeed the quite brilliant Liz Forgan as chair of the Scott Trust, preserving the independent editorial values and the long term financial stability upon which our future depends.”

Speaking of the changes in the media world since succeeding Peter Preston as editor in 1995, Rusbridger said: “It’s been quite an extraordinary period in the life of the Guardian. In February 1995 newspaper websites were, if they existed at all, exotic things: we were still four years off launching Guardian Unlimited.

“Since 1999 we’ve grown to overtake all others to become the most-read serious English language digital newspaper in the world.

“Each editor is told – this is literally the only instruction – to carry the Guardian on ‘as heretofore’. That means understanding the spirit, culture and purpose of the paper and interpreting it for the present. All that is only possible because of the unique Scott Trust, set up in 1936 to ensure the Guardian survives in perpetuity.”

Rusbridger said he felt privileged to have held one of a handful of roles in global journalism “that have the capability to redefine our industry”.

Under Rusbridger’s leadership, the Guardian was responsible for a series of high profile investigations, most recently the long-running series of stories revealing the widespread use of phone hacking, which led to the Leveson inquiry into press standards.

The Guardian also published the contents of secret US diplomatic cables in partnership with WikiLeaks, which embarrassed governments around the world.

Speaking in Sydney this week, Rusbridger questioned whether new Australian laws designed to clampdown on whistleblowers would have seen him facing jail for revealing Australia’s phone tapping of the Indonesian president.

Last year The Guardian published a story gleaned from the leaked Edward Snowden files on US intelligence operations which claimed Australian officials had been tapping the phone on the Indonesian president and his wife.

No successor has been named for Rusbridger, with a process to name his successor announced “in due course”. The Independent is reporting that Janine Gibson, the editor-in-chief of and former editor of the Guardian’s US operation is a frontrunner. 

The other leading internal candidate is former editor of the Guardian’s Australian operation Katharine Viner, who recently moved to run the US operation.

In an interview with Mumbrella, earlier this year, Viner was asked if she was interested in the top job and deflected the question but noted: “I take jobs that I think are interesting and that I will enjoy. That’s what I’m doing here and I love working with Alan.”


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