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A New Broom At The Barber Shop

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Farewell to Lionel Barber, the self-described Alpha Male, who is stepping down as editor of the Financial Times after 14 years.

And congratulations to Roula Khalaf, by all accounts an excellent hack, who replaces him at the top.

It’s good that the FT has its first female editor, but perhaps the international nature of her background is equally significant – she is Lebanese born and American educated and her focus at the FT has been on foreign affairs rather than financial matters. Does this suggest a change in editorial policy?

Few things interest hacks more than big hack moves, so some thoughts to occupy curious minds…

1 – What happens to Gillian Tett? The rumour mill has it Barber was not entirely keen for her to get the editorship. Khalaf’s promotion to deputy in 2016 was seen as her being given Barber’s seal of approval.

2 – Will Barber be in the market for non-executive posts? Or will he be seeking to join the ranks of the great and the good like Alan Rusbridger and some ex BBC grandees?

3 – The fate of previous FT editors is interesting…Andrew Gowers – head of comms at BP, until the Macondo disaster, now shilling for Trafigura; Richard Lambert – fairly workaday director-general of the CBI but awarded a knighthood nonetheless. Does Barber seek gongs?

4 – Wither the runners-up – Alec Russell, Robert Shrimsley, Gillian Tett & former deputy editor John Thornhill? Barber had a ruthless clear-out of Gowers’s lieutenants when he took over. Will Khalaf do the same, or is she inheriting a much steadier ship?

5 – The reader comments under the FT’s write-up of the new editor are worth a look.

There are some pretty spiky remarks about it being too pro-Remain, too pro-EU and not doing enough business news. By no means is it stuffed with gushing tributes – although there are a few of those too.

And a last bit of trivia for you – the day the FT announced that Gowers had been replaced as editor by Barber, scarcely any media correspondents were around to cover the news.

The big media story that day was that Rebekah Brooks had been arrested.


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