Chris Blackhurst promoted to group editorial director

Independent editor Chris Blackhurst has been promoted to the newly-created role of group editorial director for the Evening Standard and Independent newspapers.

The news was confirmed by the chairman of the Evening Standard Ltd and Independent Print Ltd Evgeny Lebedev this morning.

He tweeted: ‘Pleased to announce @c_blackhurst [Chris Blackhurst] is made group editorial director in charge of future integration. He is a brilliant journalist.”

Blackhurst told Press Gazette that the Lebedevs wanted to ‘look at how the two papers can be made to work closer together”.

‘It’s one pot of cash, four print titles and two websites,’he said. ‘We want to see if we can manage things more efficiently.”

Last year the sports and business departments across the Evening Standard and the three Independent titles – i, The Independent on Sunday and The Independent – were merged after consultants carried out an efficiency review.

Blackhurst added: ‘We’ve already successfully integrated business and sport on the Standard and Independent and I think obviously we’d like to see if it’s possible to do more along those lines.”

Blackhurst, who will continue in his role as Independent editor, stressed it was not only the news departments that would be reviewed.

He said: “The instruction from the Lebedevs, which is a perfectly reasonable one, is to see if we can manage their resources as efficiently as possible.”

The news comes days after Evening Standard deputy editor Sarah Sands was promoted to editor following the departure of Geordie Greig for the Mail on Sunday.

Blackhurst – who also joins the board of Independent Print Limited – replaced Simon Kelner as Independent editor on July 2011 and before that was the Evening Standard’s City Editor.

He was previously deputy editor of the The Independent and the Independent on Sunday, before leaving to take up the same role at the Daily Express.

In November he oversaw the title’s fourth redesign in the space of three years, dropping the Viewspaper second section and the use of poster-style front pages.

Associated Newspapers remains a minority shareholder in the Evening Standard after selling 75.1 per cent of the paper to a consortium led by Alexander Lebedev in February 2009.

The Independent and Independent on Sunday titles were added to the Levedevs’ portfolio in 2010.

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