Media shock: Rusbridger leaves Guardian chairmanship

Media shock: Rusbridger leaves Guardian chairmanship


norman lebrecht

May 13, 2016

The piano-playing former editor was supposed to become chair of the Scott Trust, which owns the paper. But the Guardian is suffering massive losses, some of which can be ascribed to his expansionist programme.

Here’s the rather sad email he sent this morning to Guardian staff. It will resonate with journalists the world over.

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….


alan rusbridger 3_5



  • Will Duffay says:

    I wonder how long before it’s forced to adopt some sort of charging policy for online content. It would be a great shame, not least given that it represents the only non-right-wing perspective in the UK, but it can’t continue giving away journalism for free.

  • Minutewaltz says:

    He’s a hypocrite, pretending to be a socialist then sending his children to public school.

  • DESR says:

    So, man who was due to take up post, is now not to take up post. (He has not therefore left said post.)

    Gripping stuff.

  • John G. Deacon says:

    The arts pages of this paper were always good but the paper is in decline because of the political rubbish it publishes. Ever fewer educated people want to read such stuff and so the readership falls steadily. One expects the print version to go very soon. But where will Polly then find employment ??

    • Sue says:

      Agreed, except the reading age for the Guardian is about 11. The music articles would be good if they weren’t pitched at this age group. And, as you rightly suggest, the paper is full of political tripe. There’s nobody working there older than about 25 and with a permanent undergraduate mentality. Except for Petty Polly. But relax – she’s just a parrot.

    • Ron says:

      I disagree. I think educated people want to read the Guardian because it gives them an alternative point of view to the prevailing right-wing dogma. Would you rather only have your news from skewed, depressing papers like the Daily Mail or the Murdoch controlled Sun/Times? All they are obsessed with is tits and arses juxtaposed with right-wing hate to anyone who doesn’t live in the 1950s.

  • Ron says:

    It’s a shame because in a healthy democracy, you need to have opposing voices and opinions to the ghastly right-wing gutter press that’s out there (Mail, Times, Sun, Express). The Guardian continues to set the agenda with an alternative and rich point of view. I hope it continues to thrive.

  • Anal arsebanger says:

    He looks like a fat Louis theroux