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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The deafening killer - why noise will be the next great pollution scandal

A growing body of evidence shows that noise can have serious health impacts too. 

Our cities are being poisoned by a toxin that surrounds us day and night. It eats away at our brains, hurts our hearts, clutches at our sleep, and gnaws at the quality of our daily lives.

Hardly a silent killer, it gets short shrift compared to the well-publicised terrors of air pollution and sugars food. It is the dull, thumping, stultifying drum-beat of perpetual noise.

The score that accompanies city life is brutal and constant. It disrupts the everyday: The coffee break ruined by the screech of a line of double decker buses braking at the lights. The lawyer’s conference call broken by drilling as she makes her way to the office. The writer’s struggle to find a quiet corner to pen his latest article.

For city-dwellers, it’s all-consuming and impossible to avoid. Construction, traffic, the whirring of machinery, the neighbour’s stereo. Even at home, the beeps and buzzes made by washing machines, fridges, and phones all serve to distract and unsettle.

But the never-ending noisiness of city life is far more than a problem of aesthetics. A growing body of evidence shows that noise can have serious health impacts too. Recent studies have linked noise pollution to hearing loss, sleep deprivation, hypertension, heart disease, brain development, and even increased risk of dementia.

One research team compared families living on different stories of the same building in Manhattan to isolate the impact of noise on health and education. They found children in lower, noisier floors were worse at reading than their higher-up peers, an effect that was most pronounced for children who had lived in the building for longest.

Those studies have been replicated for the impact of aircraft noise with similar results. Not only does noise cause higher blood pressure and worsens quality of sleep, it also stymies pupils trying to concentrate in class.

As with many forms of pollution, the poorest are typically the hardest hit. The worst-off in any city often live by busy roads in poorly-insulated houses or flats, cheek by jowl with packed-in neighbours.

The US Department of Transport recently mapped road and aircraft noise across the United States. Predictably, the loudest areas overlapped with some of the country’s most deprived. Those included the south side of Atlanta and the lowest-income areas of LA and Seattle.

Yet as noise pollution grows in line with road and air traffic and rising urban density, public policy has turned a blind eye.

Council noise response services, formally a 24-hour defence against neighbourly disputes, have fallen victim to local government cuts. Decisions on airport expansion and road development pay scant regard to their audible impact. Political platforms remain silent on the loudest poison.

This is odd at a time when we have never had more tools at our disposal to deal with the issue. Electric Vehicles are practically noise-less, yet noise rarely features in the arguments for their adoption. Just replacing today’s bus fleet would transform city centres; doing the same for taxis and trucks would amount to a revolution.

Vehicles are just the start. Millions were spent on a programme of “Warm Homes”; what about “Quiet Homes”? How did we value the noise impact in the decision to build a third runway at Heathrow, and how do we compensate people now that it’s going ahead?

Construction is a major driver of decibels. Should builders compensate “noise victims” for over-drilling? Or could regulation push equipment manufacturers to find new ways to dampen the sound of their kit?

Of course, none of this addresses the noise pollution we impose on ourselves. The bars and clubs we choose to visit or the music we stick in our ears. Whether pumping dance tracks in spin classes or indie rock in trendy coffee shops, people’s desire to compensate for bad noise out there by playing louder noise in here is hard to control for.

The Clean Air Act of 1956 heralded a new era of city life, one where smog and grime gave way to clear skies and clearer lungs. That fight still goes on today.

But some day, we will turn our attention to our clogged-up airwaves. The decibels will fall. #Twitter will give way to twitter. And every now and again, as we step from our homes into city life, we may just hear the sweetest sound of all. Silence.

Adam Swersky is a councillor in Harrow and is cabinet member for finance. He writes in a personal capacity.