The Daily Telegraph, one of the UK’s papers of record, sacked its editor, Tony Gallagher, on Tuesday, according to multiple reports. A statement released by the Telegraph Media Group, which owns the Telegraph, said that Gallagher was “leaving the company as the business moves to the next phase of its digital transformation.”
Gallagher’s departure comes after former PBS executive Jason Seiken, noted for revitalizing the broadcaster’s digital output, was appointed the Telegraph Media Group’s chief content officer in September.
Gallagher’s job at the Telegraph effectively no longer exists. Instead, assistant news editor Chris Evans is taking over the paper’s weekday print edition, while Sunday Telegraph editor Ian MacGregor is handling both Saturday and Sunday editions. Both will report to Seiken, who is expected to outline his new digital-first vision for the Telegraph soon.
A former Daily Mail reporter, Gallagher joined The Daily Telegraph in 2009 and helped preside over the paper’s exposure of the Members of Parliament expenses scandal later that year. Although viewed as something of an old-fashioned newsprint man, Gallagher was highly respected, and his departure stunned staff and the British media world alike.
Daily Telegraph editor Tony Gallagher has left. Newsroom in shock. Some in tears— Ben Bryant (@benbryant) January 21, 2014
He left the Telegraph’s offices to the sound of reporters banging their desks, a traditional way for British journalists to show appreciation for respected colleagues:
Telegraph editor Tony Gallagher has just been banged out of the newsroom. Everyone in shock.— Sophie Curtis (@scurtsy) January 21, 2014
Roy Gleensade defended Gallagher in his column for The Guardian:
I am astonished at the decision by Telegraph Media Group’s chief executive, Murdoch MacLennan, who has - throughout his newspaper career - show an appreciation and an affection for the talents of old-fashioned news journalists of Gallagher’s ilk. But it would appear that MacLennan has forsaken newsprint in favour of digital by giving ultimate power to Jason Seiken, the man hired as “chief content officer” in September last year. We know, of course, that the future is digital. But it does not mean that the future is devoid of journalism. What will count, what does count, is journalistic input and output.
With a circulation of around 545,000, The Daily Telegraph is the UK’s most popular broadsheet, while the Telegraph Media Group’s £56-million profit last financial year makes it one of the country’s most profitable newspaper groups.
Yet, in the statement released by TMG, MacLennan said that the Telegraph faced “increasing pressure on circulation and advertising revenue streams,” and “to protect the Company’s future we need rapidly to embrace and adapt to the new digital world in which our customers live.”