By Hamish Mackay
Charles McGhee today took over as the new editor of The Herald.
McGhee, editor of sister paper the Glasgow Evening Times, replaced Mark Douglas-Home, who left in December after five years in the post.
Janette Harkess, deputy editor, will be acting editor of the Evening Times until a successor is appointed.
One of the first major issues McGhee will have to tackle is whether The Herald should follow most of the quality broadsheets and switch to tabloid format.
Like most of its competitors, the Glasgow-based broadsheet has been leaking sales. However, its full-price paid-for daily sales in the six months to end 2005 was 77,000, which still puts it comfortably ahead of its main rival The Scotsman. The Edinburgh broadsheet is expected to be revitalised under new owner Johnston Press.
McGhee, who has edited the Evening Times since 1999 and guided it to a best UK evening newspaper of the year award, told Press Gazette: “I am delighted to be taking over at the helm of Scotland’s leading quality daily newspaper. It will be a privilege to edit The Herald, which is one of the oldest newspapers in the English-speaking world, and one which is held in the highest regard both within and outwith Scotland.
“In what is a difficult and challenging time for the newspaper industry in general, my role will be to maintain and enhance The Herald’s outstanding reputation for quality journalism and to implement a product development programme that will help the newspaper to meet the changing needs of our readers in the twenty-first century.”
Tim Blott, managing director of Newsquest (Herald and Times) said: “Charles is an excellent editor and has done a fantastic job with the Evening Times. He has produced some great ideas on how the Herald can develop and improve in a highly-competitive newspaper market.”
McGhee began his career as a reporter on the Hamilton Advertiser weekly before moving into broadcasting in the mid-1970s, when he joined BBC Scotland as a sub-editor. He left after three years for Papua New Guinea with Voluntary Service Overseas – becoming founding editor of the country’s first colour magazine, New Nation.
On his return, he joined the Evening Times as a sub-editor and later became assistant features editor.
In 1987, he moved to Eddie Shah’s ground-breaking Today newspaper in London as assistant night etitor. He then studied he studied the impact of new technology on journalism in the United States on a Winston Churchill Fellowship. He returned to Glasgow as deputy launch editor of Sunday Times Scotland, moved with editor Andrew Jaspan to relaunch Scotland on Sunday, and teamed up with Jaspan for a third time as consultant editor for the launch of the Sunday Herald.
During the 1990s, he also served as deputy editor of Scotland’s biggest-selling tabloids – the Scottish Sunday Mail and the Daily Record.
He is currently president of the UK Society of Editors and has just completed a two-year term on the Press Complaints Commission.