'Mirror' chooses showbiz reporter to succeed Morgan

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The Independent Online

The veteran showbusiness journalist Richard Wallace has stepped into the editor's chair left vacant by Piers Morgan at the Daily Mirror.

The veteran showbusiness journalist Richard Wallace has stepped into the editor's chair left vacant by Piers Morgan at the Daily Mirror.

Mr Wallace, 43, who had been acting editor of the Sunday Mirror during Tina Weaver's maternity leave, replaces Mr Morgan, who was sacked on 14 May after he published photographs purporting to show British soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners that turned out to be fakes.

Mr Wallace is a popular choice with staff at the Mirror, who cheered when his appointment was announced during half-time of England's Euro 2004 victory over Switzerland yesterday. But the news went down less well with Des Kelly, the acting editor of the tabloid since Mr Morgan was given the push. He has decided to leave the Mirror.

Mr Wallace said: "I'm absolutely delighted to be given the opportunity to lead this great newspaper, especially as I'm going to be working with the most talented team in Fleet Street. The greatest challenge for national newspapers is circulation. I'm confident that we have the team, the talent and the will to tackle this challenge and I look forward to even greater success for the Daily Mirror."

The new editor's first task will be to stop the circulation decline at the newspaper. In May, as a result of the furore over the faked photographs, the Daily Mirror's circulation plunged by 6 per cent year on year to 1,846,734 - its lowest level since the Second World War.

Mr Morgan's decision to give the Mirror a more serious news agenda, including opposing the war in Iraq, also proved a turn-off for readers.

"It [the appointment] is a very popular choice with the troops," said a Mirror insider. "He's got a good eye for a story. He's got a tendency towards the light and trite and frothy - the kind of stuff that sells newspapers."

Mr Wallace has worked for Mirror Group Newspapers for 14 years. He was a reporter at The Sun and the Daily Mail before joining the Daily Mirror, where he rose to become showbusiness editor, head of news, and New York correspondent.

The US posting was widely seen as a sign that Mr Wallace being groomed for higher things. Sure enough, in April 2003 he was appointed deputy editor of the Sunday Mirror. His background as showbusiness editor of the daily paper mirrors Mr Morgan's own credentials.

Mr Morgan was editor of The Sun's showbusiness column, Bizarre, before being picked out by Rupert Murdoch to edit the News of the World, and then moving to the Mirror eight years ago.

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