LONDON – Roula Khalaf will become the first woman to edit the Financial Times in its 131-year history after Lionel Barber said he would step down in January.
Khalaf served as deputy editor, foreign editor and Middle East editor during her more than two decades at the salmon-pink newspaper. In recent years she has also sought to increase the number of female readers and journalists at the title.
“It’s a great honour to be appointed editor of the FT, the greatest news organisation in the world,” she said.
“I look forward to building on Lionel Barber’s extraordinary achievements and am grateful for his mentorship through the years.”
Khalaf, from Lebanon, will join Katharine Viner at the Guardian as one of the few women to edit major newspapers in Britain. Prior to joining the FT in 1995, she worked at Forbes magazine in New York and holds a master’s degree from Columbia University.
Tsuneo Kita, chairman of Nikkei, said Khalaf had been selected for her sound judgment and integrity. “We look forward to working closely with her to deepen our global media alliance,” he said in a statement.
Barber, the most senior financial journalist in the country, will step down after 14 years as editor and 34 years at the newspaper.
During his time he engineered a successful push into online subscription that protected the title as others battled plummeting advertising revenue, and managed the move to a new owner after Japan’s Nikkei bought the FT from Pearson in 2015.
The FT passed the milestone of one million paying readers in 2019, with digital subscribers accounting for more than 75% of total circulation.
As editor Barber also interviewed a raft of world leaders and most recently made headlines in June when Russia’s Vladimir Putin told him that liberalism had become obsolete.
The newspaper has also come under fire from some leading members of the governing Conservative Party, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson, for what they perceive to be critical coverage of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.
Nikkei’s Kita said Barber had transformed the FT newsroom into a digital-first operation. Describing him as a strategic thinker and true internationalist, he said it was very sad to see him leave the FT.
“However, both of us agree it is time to open a new chapter.”