Robert Thomson, the Financial Times’s US managing editor, was confirmed as editor of The Times on Wednesday after the independent board of Times Newspapers gave its approval.
News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch described him as the ideal candidate to follow Peter Stothard’s "brilliant editorship". He said: "He will join The Times with an outstanding international reputation and I am sure will lead the newspaper with great distinction."
Thomson said he was "proud and delighted" to be joining The Times. "It has been an honour working with the staff of the FT and Pearson. It is time for a new challenge and I can think of none greater than leading The Times and working with its journalists."
It is the first time The Times has been edited by an Australian. Thomson, 40, is "not your typical British journalist", according to his FT colleagues. He is smart, witty, softly spoken and looks a bit like a Fifties rock’n’roll star. He wears unusual suits with narrow ties and has a highly defined dress sense.
"He is a smooth operator and has a talent for getting on with the great and the good – but he is extremely tough underneath. He really is an iron hand in a velvet glove," said one senior FT journalist.
Others say he is a "brilliant journalist" with a very good grasp of international stories and financial matters.
Ironically it was the editor of the FT, Andrew Gowers, who was Thomson’s original "champion" at the paper, giving him his big break as foreign news editor.
Colleagues say he is the consummate international journalist, knowing very little about British politics, who has evinced little or no interest in European matters – "So what he could contribute to the debate on the Euro is quite challenging. And you have got to consider that Murdoch is not the easiest person to work for and the level of interference Thomson may find at The Times." FT deputy editor John Ridding is currently in New York "keeping the troops calm".
In the frame for taking Thomson’s managing editor role in the US are Lionel Barber, European edition editor, and features editor John Gapper.
Stothard leaves, page 4
By Jean Morgan