Roula Khalaf has been appointed the next editor of the Financial Times, succeeding Lionel Barber, who stepped down on Tuesday after a 14-year tenure that put the news organisation on a profitable footing even as its traditional print business was upended.
In an email to staff on Tuesday, Mr Barber announced his 34-year career at the paper would end in January when he leaves “the best job in journalism” and is replaced by his deputy, Ms Khalaf.
“When I took over as editor, I pledged to restore the gold standard in the FT’s reporting and commentary, and to help the board to build a sustainably profitable business,” he wrote, adding the responsibility had been “a rare privilege and pleasure” during “tumultuous times”.
Ms Khalaf has held the FT’s second most senior editorial post since 2016, overseeing the newsroom’s strategic planning and launching initiatives such as Trade Secrets, a new service focused on global trade.
Her career at the newspaper has included running the FT’s 100-strong network of foreign correspondents and leading its Middle East coverage during the Iraq war and Arab Spring of 2011.
Ms Khalaf said she was “thrilled” to be running “the greatest news organisation in the world”. She will be the FT’s first female editor since it was founded in 1884.
Tsuneo Kita, chairman of Nikkei, the FT’s proprietor, said Ms Khalaf’s 24-year career at the paper had proven “her integrity, determination and sound judgment”. “I have full confidence that she will continue the FT’s mission to deliver quality journalism without fear and without favour.”
During his tenure, Mr Barber oversaw the shift away from print advertising that underpinned the FT’s business for more than a century, building a digital publishing strategy and developing a readership of more than 1m subscribers.
The FT also came under new ownership in 2015 after it was bought by Nikkei Group, Japan’s biggest media organisation, for £844m from Pearson, which had been its home since 1957.
Mr Kita described Mr Barber as “a strategic thinker, true internationalist and great friend of Nikkei”.
“He has transformed the FT newsroom into a world-class digital-first operation, producing a unique combination of deep, original reporting and powerful commentary. FT journalism has never been stronger,” he said.
“Lionel and I have built personal trust over the last several years; it’s very sad to see him leave the FT. However, both of us agree it is time to open a new chapter.”
Mr Barber started his career as a business reporter at the FT in 1985, following stints at the Scotsman and the Sunday Times. He served as Washington correspondent, Brussels bureau chief, news editor and US managing editor.