Financial Times appoints first female editor as Lionel Barber steps down

The Financial Times has appointed a female editor for the first time in its 131-year history, following the decision of long-serving editor Lionel Barber to stand down.

Mr Barber, the longest-service national newspaper editor in the country, announced he would quit early next year and be replaced by current deputy Roula Khalaf as editor.

Ms Khalaf has been the FT’s deputy editor since 2016, and was previously foreign editor responsible for leading a global network of more than 100 correspondents and pushing for greater diversity in the newsroom.

Roula Khalaf
Roula Khalaf

Most recently she launched Trade Secrets, described as “a new content vertical focused on global trade” and concentrated on winning over more women readers.

Recent investigations have looked particularly at the behaviour of senior men in business, including an undercover report from the President’s Club Ball and allegations of wrongdoing by the founder of cloud business UKFast, Lawrence Jones.

Tsuneo Kita, chairman of Nikkei, which owns the FT, said: “I am delighted that Roula Khalaf has agreed to take the position of editor.

“I have full confidence that she will continue the FT’s mission to deliver quality journalism without fear and without favour, inspire and lead a team of the most talented journalists and pursue the FT’s new agenda covering business, finance, economics and world affairs.

“Roula’s 24-year FT career, including her tenure as deputy editor, has proven her integrity, determination and sound judgment.

“We look forward to working closely with her to deepen our global media alliance.”

Ms Khalaf said: “It’s a great honour to be appointed editor of the FT, the greatest news organisation in the world.

“I’m thrilled to be leading the most talented newsroom through the next chapter of FT excellence. I look forward to building on Lionel Barber’s extraordinary achievements and am grateful for his mentorship through the years.”

Previous roles for the new editor also included Middle East editor during the Arab Spring, and working in North Africa.

The FT has a huge following in the City, with business leaders keen to appear in its pages.

However, the newspaper has a strong union presence and has fought in recent years for tougher regulation on the City and an improvement in working conditions at companies – particularly for women and minorities.

It has also been avowedly pro-EU in its coverage of the Brexit uncertainty – reflecting the views of the majority of businesses it covers.

Lionel Barber and Roula Khalaf arrive on editorial floor this morning <Succession theme fade out>

— Janine Gibson (@janinegibson) November 12, 2019

Mr Barber was even offered France’s highest honour, the Legion d’Honneur, in recognition of his career in journalism and the paper’s “positive role in the European debate”.

He was also a firm fixture on the pundit scene, taking part in several discussions and debates on the biggest issues facing UK and international businesses.

In an email to staff on Tuesday, Mr Barber said he is leaving “the best job in journalism” and added: “When I took over as editor, I pledged to restore the gold standard in the FT’s reporting and commentary, and to help the board to build a sustainably profitable business.”