Yesterday the Scott Trust, owners of the Guardian, met to discuss whether Alan Rusbridger would take over as chair as agreed two years ago. The Trust was split on whether this should still happen – current editor Kath Viner and GMG chief exec David Pemsel particularly opposed Rusbridger’s return amid staff outcry and swingeing cuts. Today Rusbridger has confirmed he is out. Coup successful…
Read his email in full:
Dear former colleagues
I wanted to let you know I will not be returning to Chair the Scott Trust later this year. Many of you will know what the Scott Trust has meant to me and for Guardian journalism. It is so unique that not many people – externally, or, sometimes, even internally – truly appreciate the crucial role it has had over many years in nurturing, resourcing and protecting what we do. When, in late 2014, the Scott Trust appointed me to succeed Liz as chair I was beyond honoured. But much has changed in the year since I stepped down. All newspapers – and many media organisations beyond – have been battered by turbulent and economic forces that were difficult to foresee last summer.
On my appointment to the Scott Trust job in November 2014 the Chair of GMG, Neil Berkett, was kind enough to say publicly : “Alan has set the standard for journalistic leadership in the digital age. His appointment to lead The Scott Trust coincides with rapidly rising readership, continued innovation and secure finances at the Guardian. His successor will inherit a global media organisation in very strong health and with clear prospects for further growth.” The difference between that assessment and the way things look now is a measure of how much the world has changed. I have been on the Trust long enough to understand its role.
We all currently do our journalism in the teeth of a force 12 digital hurricane. It is surely obvious to anyone that changed circumstances will demand dramatically changed solutions. Kath and David clearly believe they would like to plot a route into the future with a new chair and I understand their reasoning. I have a fantastically interesting new life in Oxford. I will miss you all. You have been the most wonderful colleagues and we achieved really amazing things together. I continue to read with immense admiration the journalism the Guardian and Observer produce. It’s all the more enjoyable for having played no part in it.
Thanks to all of you who have quietly emailed support in the past few weeks. And very best wishes to all as you negotiate the storms currently affecting pretty much everyone in our industry. We will come through….