The observer to rethink format

The Observer looks set for yet another relaunch when a new editor replaces Jonathan Fenby, who resigned last week.

The Sunday paper is looking to reverse its news-based strategy by raising the profile of its features, interviews and themed sections, which have failed to convince enough readers to buy the newspaper, say sources at the company.

“It’s not a natural choice for women. Too many of the sections – like business, sport and, to a certain extent, the main news – are targeted at men,” says a Guardian advertising source.

The Scott Trust, which owns both The Guardian and The Observer, has promoted long-standing Guardian editor Peter Preston to editor-in-chief of both newspapers, although his primary task will be to oversee a revival of The Observer’s fortunes.

Fenby’s departure became inevitable during the second half of last year, despite a number of high-profile scoops, including the “Bastardgate” revelations, says a source at The Observer.

“There was a feeling that news on its own, which was Fenby’s strong point, was not enough to build a Sunday paper,” adds the source.

Favourite for The Observer editorship is Independent on Sunday editor Ian Jack. Other possible candidates include BBC Radio managing director Liz Forgan and Evening Standard editor Stewart Steven.

Guardian deputy editor Alan Rusbridger is the hot favourite to take over the reins from Preston.

The Scott Trust effectively dismissed speculation that Preston would remain in overall charge of the papers at a meeting on Monday. The new appointees will be “strong, autonomous editors,” it said.

* The Guardian is producing a 15-minute radio programme based on its listings magazine The Guide, which will be broadcast on ILR stations in the South-east.

Torin Douglas, page 17

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