The editor of The Times since 2013 has been appointed chairman of Times Newspapers Ltd and will step down as editor with immediate effect
His successor will be announced tomorrow (Wednesday). Witherow joined News UK in 1980 and was appointed editor of The Sunday Times in 1994.
Rupert Murdoch, executive chairman of News Corp, said: “John is one of the great editors of his generation and he can look back on an outstanding career. His leadership of both The Sunday Times and latterly of The Times has taken each paper from strength to strength, breaking stories that have resonance around the world.
“His skill in crafting a quality newspaper that sets the agenda and is an enticing read is unparalleled. I am very proud of The Times and The Sunday Times and my sincere thanks go to John for his immense contribution to journalism over the past 42 years. I am delighted that he will stay with the business and take on the role of chairman.”
Robert Thomson, chief executive of News Corp, said: “During my time as editor of The Times, I admired the journalistic excellence of The Sunday Times, which was an artful blend of headline-snatching scoops, the finest writing and superior craft under John’s sage leadership.
“He brought those same enduring qualities to The Times, which was much enhanced under his editorship, and patently became a global beacon of editorial integrity at a time when journalistic standards around the world have slipped perceptibly and profoundly.
“John’s positive impact on journalism and on society will resonate for many, many years to come.”
Rebekah Brooks, CEO of News UK, said: “The Times is an exceptional newspaper, highly regarded around the world and known as the paper of record. Under John’s editorship, we have some of the finest writers and the best journalism in Britain which makes it an unmissable read.
“John has overseen the transition from print to digital, ensuring that The Times is now a highly-creative, multi-channel media operation with a healthy digital subscription business.
“In John’s new role as chairman, I know he will continue to share his wisdom with both the business and editorial teams.”
John Witherow said: “Throughout my career as an editor, I have always been aware that I have had the heavy responsibility of preserving the reputation and success of these brands so they can continue to succeed for future generations.
“I believe that The Times is an authoritative, credible, responsible and trusted part of the nation’s cultural heritage and it has been my honour to be the editor. Our industry has been through immense change but The Times is thriving and I am proud every day of its agenda-setting journalism.
“I am grateful for the opportunities Rupert Murdoch has given to me, his support and his investment in journalism through the decades. Thanks to him, the future for The Times is bright.”