The Guardian has named Katharine Viner as its next Editor in Chief, making her the first woman to take the top job at the global news outlet.
Sitting Editor in Chief Alan Rusbridger, who has held the position for twenty years, resigned late last year and the search for his successor began. The decision took three months to finalise and went through a number of stages.
Each of the 26 candidates were asked to submit a statement explaining the direction in which they, as Editor in Chief, would take the publication, and from these statements Guardian and Observer journalists across the globe voted for their preferred editor. Viner won the staff ballot with 53% of the vote.
The candidates were then interviewed at length by the board of the Scott Trust, the trust fund that has owned the paper since its founding and allows it to operate independently. The board’s final meeting took seven hours and at the end of it, Viner was named Editor in Chief.
Viner focused her campaign for the role around her ability to support the publication through the transition towards digital journalism. This is something she has experience in already, having been responsible for launching the Guardian’s online Australian edition.
“The Guardian has successfully navigated the first phase of the digital revolution: we have huge scale, a keen sense of what makes the Guardian different, and are trusted at a time when trust is at a premium,” Viner said in her statement.
“But we face big challenges. To ensure the survival of Guardian journalism in perpetuity we need a clear, flexible plan — with humility about an unknown future.”
“We have a powerful identity, an honourable history, a base of integrity and resilience.”
Viner said she is honoured to be assuming the role of Editor in Chief when Rusbridger leaves the role in late 2015.
“Being editor-in-chief of the Guardian and Observer is an enormous privilege and responsibility, leading a first-class team of journalists revered around the world for outstanding reporting, independent thinking, incisive analysis and digital innovation,” she said.
“Building on (Rusbridger’s) track record, I intend to lead a media organisation that is bold, challenging, open and engaging. It will be a home for the most ambitious journalism, ideas and events, setting the agenda and reaching out to readers all around the world.”
In a statement about the appointment, Rusbridger said Viner will “bring immense experience, flair, warmth, imagination and formidable energy to her new role as editor of the Guardian.”
Viner was educated at Oxford University before getting her first job at Cosmopolitan magazine. She later moved to the Sunday Times, where she spent three years.
Viner joined the Guardian 18 years ago, in 1997. She later became the editor of the publication’s G2 supplement, the editor of its Saturday edition, the editor of its weekend magazine, deputy women’s editor and finally deputy Editor in Chief, a role which immediately precedes her appointment to the top job.
On top of these editorial roles, Viner was also chosen to establish the online Guardian Australia in 2013. Last year, she moved to New York when she was appointed Editor in Chief of the Guardian US, on top of her role as deputy Editor in Chief of Guardian News and Media.
Viner is only the 11th Editor in Chief in the Guardian’s 194-year history, and its first woman, making the appointment an historic achievement. Viner was one of three female candidates in the running for the appointment.
She joins four other women currently editing national newspapers, but has become the world’s only female editor of a quality daily publication.