Roger Alton named editor of The Independent

Former Observer editor Roger Alton has been appointed editor of The Independent.

Simon Kelner, editor-in-chief of The Independent and Independent on Sunday, has been promoted to managing director and editor-in-chief of the titles.

Alton edited the Observer for nine-and-a-half years, but left at the end of December. In an interview with Press Gazette in January this year he said: “Ten years is a perfectly reasonable amount of time to do anything. You get stale: you need to renew yourself.”

Under his editorship last year the Observer paper won the newspaper of the year at the British Press Awards. He was named editor of the year in the What The Papers Say Awards in 2000, and editor of the year in the 2005 GQ Awards.

Alton lead the Observer’s move to the Berliner format and introduced the Sunday newspaper’s monthly Sport, Food, Music and Woman magazines. Before taking the helm at the Observer he was an assistant editor at The Guardian.

Kelner has been editor-in-chief at The Independent titles for the past ten years. In his new role, which he will take up at the end of May, he will be responsible for the circulation, marketing and commercial departments, as well as overall editorial management of both papers.

The move follows news yesterday that Independent commercial director Simon Barnes was leaving the title after four years in which he was said to have been responsible for double digit revenue growth.

Ivan Fallon, chief executive of Independent News Media (UK) said: ‘The combination of Simon Kelner and Roger Alton, perhaps the two most outstanding editors of recent years, will be formidable. Between them, they have won just about every award in the business. Simon is one of the most innovative and imaginative newspapermen in the industry, and he will now head a talented new team which will take The Independent into a major new and exciting phase.

‘Roger Alton is a journalist of terrific drive, experience and energy, who has been instrumental in reviving the fortunes of The Observer, and the awards he has received over the past few years are ample testament to his journalistic skill. I am delighted that, of the many options open to him, he has chosen to join The Independent. He takes over a paper in rude health, with some of the best writers in British newspapers, and I am sure he will lead them, in his own way, to even more success.”

Alton said: ‘I am immensely privileged to have the chance to work on The Independent, which is a brilliant and innovative paper, and represents an opportunity to build on the great achievements of Simon and past editors. It has a terrific team of world-class writers and journalists and remains one of the best-known and most-admired media brands anywhere. I believe there is a huge opportunity to capitalise on its strengths and international reputation.’

Daryl Fielding is appointed commercial director of The Independent and The Independent on Sunday joining from advertising agency Ogilvy and Mather, where she was a managing partner.

Kelner said: ‘I am delighted that we have been able to recruit Daryl, who will bring to The Independent titles new thinking, a fresh perspective and a wealth of experience in the advertising industry. We already have a commercial department that punches above its weight, but under Daryl’s leadership, I believe we can achieve even more success.”

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