Who shall guard the Observer?

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The Independent Online
With Alan Rusbridger's appointment as editor of the Guardian secured, all eyes are on who is to succeed Jonathan Fenby at the Observer. 29 people applied, and 12 have been interviewed by the editorial college, which includes Mike Unger, editor ofthe Manchester Evening News, Anthony Sampson, Hugo Young, Peter Preston and Observer journalists Andrew Billen and Jonathan Wilson. The belief of those interviewed is that Preston, who hands over the Guardian to Rusbridger officially in two weeks' time, and is now elevated to editorial director, is the pivotal figure. He intends to apply his considerable experience to turn the paper round: "I have felt frustrated by my inability to help. Hopefully I can now do so, for a year or three".

First in for interview was John Price, the Observer's deputy editor. Andrew Jaspan, ambitious editor of the Scotsman is also a contender. However, selectors have yet to decide whether to take the initiative and approach strong external candidates.

Meanwhile Rusbridger (exposed by Radio 4's Medium Wave as a recently-elected member of the Garrick Club) says he intends to shake up home news and add coverage in areas which rival papers appear to be neglecting. He has brought the Guardian's executive structure into the 1990s by appointing a woman as deputy editor - Georgina Henry, 34, whose route towards the glittering prizes included a distinguished spell as media editor.

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