MEDIA: Editor of Guardian Unlimited resigns

The sudden resignation this week of Guardian Unlimited editor David Rowan has overshadowed the appointment of new editor-in-chief, Emily Bell.

Rowan was in charge of editing The Guardian's on-line offerings - apart from the dedicated media and public sector sites, MediaGuardian.co.uk and SocietyGuardian.co.uk.

The editor-in-chief role was created by offline editor Alan Rusbridger.

Bell, who starts in February 2001, will oversee everything at Guardian Unlimited.

The company was at pains to make clear that Bell was not brought in to oust Rowan, although it confirmed that he will not be replaced immediately.

'He felt there were no longer the kind of opportunities there,' a spokeswoman said. 'We are all reassessing everything; the idea was that David would work closely with Emily.

'He had been here for 11 years and left suddenly. It is regrettable that he didn't want to stay,' the spokeswoman added.

Rowan was not available for comment. It is thought his deputy, Simon Rogers, will take short term charge.

Bell, who is on maternity leave until February, is currently executive editor of MediaGuardian.co.uk.

Simon Waldman, head of Guardian Unlimited, will remain responsible for commercial development of internet products.

Specialist sites on politics and the environment are planned for 2001.

Emphasising that she is not being brought in as Waldman's boss, Bell said she would not be wielding an axe on taking up the appointment.

'Simon has been saying for some time: 'I need someone to do a big editorial role.' It is not right for him to be doing editorial and commercial development - you need two perspectives,' she said.

'I will be doing an extension of what I was doing with MediaGuardian - setting up sites and overseeing editorial strategy and management,' Bell added.





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