Could Janine Gibson, left, succeed Alan Rusbridger as editor of the Guardian? Photo: Getty.
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Who will replace Alan Rusbridger at the Guardian?

We break down the runners and riders to be the next Guardian editor, as Alan Rusbridger announces his resignation after 20 years.

Alan Rusbridger has announced he is stepping down as editor of the Guardian. Who might replace him?

Janine Gibson

Janine Gibson, 42, is the early favourite. She runs the Guardian online, is based in London, and broke the Edward Snowden story while running Guardian US.

She got the Pulitzer last year,” one informed staff member told us, referring to her role in managing the Snowden leak. The story was the peak of her three-year tenure in charge of the publication’s US site, which she set up in 2011. American readers now account for a third of the paper’s traffic, and have helped propel them from a mid-level British broadsheet into an international brand.

She moved back to London this summer, taking over theguardian.com, having ran guardian.co.uk from 2008 to 2011. When she first made the move online the Guardian was a paper with a 380,000-strong circulation. Its print sales have since halved, while its website now attracts more than 100 million visitors.

In a popularity contest, she “might not actually win.”

Her status suggests she is Rusbridger’s preferred candidate. He already holds a “not insignificant” influence over the Scott Trust and his nomination will be crucial.

But Gibson will have to pass an “indicative if not binding” vote by the Guardian’s employees. She is not guaranteed to. In a popularity contest, she “might not actually win,” the staffer suggested. She is nevertheless “very, very talented and very driven”. The New York Times’ reported attempts to poach her earlier this year will likely help her case.

Katharine Viner

Kath Viner, 43, succeeded Gibson as the paper’s US editor this summer. She joined the Guardian in 1997, one year before Gibson, and soon became editor of the Saturday Weekend supplement.

She took over the features desk in 2006 before being appointed deputy editor in 2008, along with Ian Katz – the two were long considered Rusbridger’s most likely successors.

After sixteen years in London, Viner has spent the past eighteen months establishing the Guardian internationally. Last January she set up the paper’s highly successful Australian operation, making her and Gibson the two frontrunners to have set up an international branch.

You “can’t really argue with her track record,” suggested the staffer.

Ian Katz

The stalking horse in the race is Ian Katz, 47, Rusbridger’s long-time deputy who suddenly departed last year to take over BBC’s Newsnight.

“Until 18 months ago, he was going to be the editor – no questions asked.”

Katz was offered the role and reportedly asked Rusbridger, then 59, whether he would be standing down soon. Rusbridger offered no reply, telling him to take him the job.

That encounter ended Katz’s 23-year career at the paper. He rose from a reporter to become the paper’s New York correspondent in the 1990s before running G2 for eight years and then editing the paper’s Saturday and weekday editions.

“Until 18 months ago, he was going to be the editor – no questions asked.”

While Gibson took over guardian.co.uk in 2008, Katz set it up in 1998. He also ran point on the paper’s two greatest scoops before the NSA files: Wikileaks in 2010 and the phone hacking scandal in 2011.

Katz spent years developing the careers of many staffers. “Unlike the others he was always really good at building a group of people.” The “make-up of the staff has changed” since last summer, but if he chose to ran, “he would still have some friends”.

It is not, however, clear that he wants the job. He has only been at Newsnight for fifteen months, and is yet to turn around its ratings, reform the political interview or make a distinctive mark on the show. And his acrimonious split with Rusbridger has to make his appointment unlikely.

Jonathan Freedland

A third internal candidate is the paper’s long-serving columnist Jonathan Freedland, 47, now the paper’s “executive editor, Opinion”.

The new role, which he was handed over the summer, placed him above his fellow columnists and the paper's existing comment editor, and has led to him launching the Guardian’s “Journal”, a new section for features in the daily paper.

He is undeniably the “wildcard” – there is “not much of a management career” on his CV. But Rusbridger may have handed him the role “to set him up as a potential challenger”.

As with all his fellow frontrunners, Freedland came out of Oxford. He joined the Guardian in 1993, rejoining Katz after both had been graduate trainees at the short-lived Sunday Correspondent. Like Katz, he served as a US foreign correspondent in the 1990s (Freeland was in DC when Katz was in New York), but became a columnist rather than an editor.

His preference for writing is clear: he also publishes thrillers under the pseudonym Sam Bourne. But his recent promotion suggests he may in play.

Other candidates

Two dark horses are Emily Bell, 49 – Director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism in New York, and Gibson's former boss at the Guardian, where she served as director of digital content for four years – and Emily Wilson, who succeeded Viner in Australia.

If the Scott Trust wanted an external candidate, they might consider Mark Thompson, David Rowan or Amol Rajan. Thompson, 57, is now CEO of the New York Times, having spent eight years running the BBC, but is unlikely to return to London so soon after leaving.

Rowan worked at the Guardian for many years before leaving to become the founding editor of Wired magazine's UK edition in 2009. Rajan, 31, was seven when Katz joined the paper, but has halted the Independent's print decline since taking over last year.

But Gibson and Viner seem to be the frontrunners, with Katz a stalking horse.

Harry Lambert was the editor of May2015, the New Statesman's election website.

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BHS is Theresa May’s big chance to reform capitalism – she’d better take it

Almost everyone is disgusted by the tale of BHS. 

Back in 2013, Theresa May gave a speech that might yet prove significant. In it, she declared: “Believing in free markets doesn’t mean we believe that anything goes.”

Capitalism wasn’t perfect, she continued: 

“Where it’s manifestly failing, where it’s losing public support, where it’s not helping to provide opportunity for all, we have to reform it.”

Three years on and just days into her premiership, May has the chance to be a reformist, thanks to one hell of an example of failing capitalism – BHS. 

The report from the Work and Pensions select committee was damning. Philip Green, the business tycoon, bought BHS and took more out than he put in. In a difficult environment, and without new investment, it began to bleed money. Green’s prize became a liability, and by 2014 he was desperate to get rid of it. He found a willing buyer, Paul Sutton, but the buyer had previously been convicted of fraud. So he sold it to Sutton’s former driver instead, for a quid. Yes, you read that right. He sold it to a crook’s driver for a quid.

This might all sound like a ludicrous but entertaining deal, if it wasn’t for the thousands of hapless BHS workers involved. One year later, the business collapsed, along with their job prospects. Not only that, but Green’s lack of attention to the pension fund meant their dreams of a comfortable retirement were now in jeopardy. 

The report called BHS “the unacceptable face of capitalism”. It concluded: 

"The truth is that a large proportion of those who have got rich or richer off the back of BHS are to blame. Sir Philip Green, Dominic Chappell and their respective directors, advisers and hangers-on are all culpable. 

“The tragedy is that those who have lost out are the ordinary employees and pensioners.”

May appears to agree. Her spokeswoman told journalists the PM would “look carefully” at policies to tackle “corporate irresponsibility”. 

She should take the opportunity.

Attempts to reshape capitalism are almost always blunted in practice. Corporations can make threats of their own. Think of Google’s sweetheart tax deals, banks’ excessive pay. Each time politicians tried to clamp down, there were threats of moving overseas. If the economy weakens in response to Brexit, the power to call the shots should tip more towards these companies. 

But this time, there will be few defenders of the BHS approach.

Firstly, the report's revelations about corporate governance damage many well-known brands, which are tarnished by association. Financial services firms will be just as keen as the public to avoid another BHS. Simon Walker, director general of the Institute of Directors, said that the circumstances of the collapse of BHS were “a blight on the reputation of British business”.

Secondly, the pensions issue will not go away. Neglected by Green until it was too late, the £571m hole in the BHS pension finances is extreme. But Tom McPhail from pensions firm Hargreaves Lansdown has warned there are thousands of other defined benefit schemes struggling with deficits. In the light of BHS, May has an opportunity to take an otherwise dusty issue – protections for workplace pensions - and place it top of the agenda. 

Thirdly, the BHS scandal is wreathed in the kind of opaque company structures loathed by voters on the left and right alike. The report found the Green family used private, offshore companies to direct the flow of money away from BHS, which made it in turn hard to investigate. The report stated: “These arrangements were designed to reduce tax bills. They have also had the effect of reducing levels of corporate transparency.”

BHS may have failed as a company, but its demise has succeeded in uniting the left and right. Trade unionists want more protection for workers; City boys are worried about their reputation; patriots mourn the death of a proud British company. May has a mandate to clean up capitalism - she should seize it.