Guardian chief quits following review plans into power structure

·2-min read

The chief executive of the Guardian Media Group (GMG) has quit just 15 months into the job and less than two months after its owner announced plans for a structural overhaul to shift the way the organisation is run.

Annette Thomas will leave the company this month and will be replaced by financial and operating officer Keith Underwood on an interim basis.

GMG is owned by the Scott Trust, the £1 billion endowment fund set up to bankroll the news organisation.

Annette Thomas will leave the Guardian Media Group this month (GMG/PA)
Annette Thomas will leave the Guardian Media Group this month (GMG/PA)

A recent report in the Daily Telegraph suggested tensions between Ms Thomas and Guardian editor Kath Viner have risen over the direction of the publication and the power structure within the business.

Ms Thomas’s decision to quit comes two months after the Scott Trust announced a review into GMG’s governance and structures.

The departing boss said: “After a significant turnaround year, having put a new strategic plan and a high-calibre team in place, substantially increasing our focus on journalism and digital recurring reader revenues, I have decided to step down from the role of chief executive, as the current governance and structures need more time to fully evolve to support the implementation of the reader-centric strategic plan.”

According to reports, the complex structure at GMG has contributed to tensions over who is in charge and how the Guardian should proceed.

Ms Thomas was said to favour a more prudent approach after losses were staunched by pandemic job cuts, while Ms Viner, who reports to the Scott Trust, rather than GMG, is viewed as pushing for reinvestment into the newsroom.

GMG chairman Neil Berkett said: “We have a clear strategy and a strong management team in place.

“Despite the difficulties caused by coronavirus, Guardian and Observer journalism has never been stronger or more relevant and our long-term commitment to trusted reader relationships is beginning to power our growth.

“The board will continue to support Keith Underwood, Katharine Viner and the wider management team to achieve our long-term goals.”

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