Financial Times Names Roula Khalaf Top Editor, First Woman in Role

Khalaf is the first woman to helm the publication in its 131-year history

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For the first time in over a century of publication, the Financial Times has named a woman as its top editor.

Roula Khalaf tweeted the news Tuesday, saying she was “thrilled” to succeed “the great” Lionel Barber, who held the position before she did. He has been the editor of the daily paper since 2005. Khalaf, who has been deputy editor since 2016 and has worked at the paper for 24 years, will take his place in January 2020.

According to the Times, which is based in London, Barber addressed a packed newsroom this week, telling staffers of Khalaf, “she is fair, she is wise, and she is tough.”

Under Barber, according to a release from the paper, the Times reported $32.08 million profit last year on revenues of $491.47 despite a “sharp decline in print sales.” Subscriptions make up about 60% of content revenue; around 70% of readers of the Times, known for its site’s serious paywall, are outside the U.K.

“Khalaf’s challenge is to further build an international subscription base amid fierce competition from specialist digital start-ups, the deep-pocketed Bloomberg News service and established rivals such as the New York Times and Wall Street Journal,” says the release.

Journalists at competitors and beyond cheered the move this week. The Guardian’s Katherine Viner posted on Twitter to congratulate Barber and Khalaf, saying, “Bravo to @lionelbarber, who’s been a brilliant FT editor, and many congratulations to @khalafroula — an inspired appointment, and hurrah to FT having its first woman editor!”