John Witherow has been made acting editor of The Times newspaper.
Witherow is currently the editor of the Sunday Times and his appointment to its weekday counterpart is reportedly despite opposition from the paper’s independent papers. The move will widely be seen as a sign that The Times and its Sunday version will be merged. Such a merger between the two titles though would be against legal undertakings owner Rupert Murdoch made in 1981.
Witherow is Murdoch’s choice of editor for The Times; the owner is keen to merge both titles. The Times previous editor James Harding announced he was stepping down from the position last night. Harding said it had been made clear to him that the publishes wishes to appoint a new editor for the newspaper.
As circulation for all newspapers continue to fall their publishes are seeking ways to cut costs and moving to seven-day working; merging the news rooms of the weekday and Sunday papers. Traditionally Sunday papers have been kept separate from their weekday counterparts with their own identity, news teams and editors. In the changing market though publishes are seeking to change that to cut costs.
Such a move though would go against legal undertakings Rupert Murdoch signed in 1981 with Margaret Thatcher’s government to keep both titles separate. Murdoch also had to agree that any appointment to the position of editor had to be approved by the paper’s independent directors to protect The Times’ editorial freedom.