The Times of London is in the grip of its worst internal crisis in almost two centuries of publication, reports Monitor correspondent Alexander MacLeod.
The newspaper widely regarded as a symbol of continuity is losing its prestigious editor, Harold Evans, only two months after Fleet Street acclaimed him Britain's editor of the year. Its Australian publisher, Rupert Murdoch, says the future of the Times is assured, but he has asked Mr. Evans to leave.
Deputy editor Charles Douglas-Home, nephew of a former Conservative prime minister, has been asked to take over. If he does, he will preside over a staff bitterly split between his own supporters and recently hired journalists loyal to Evans. Insiders speak of an air of nastiness and of an almost Byzantine power struggle.
The editorial switch, demanded by Murdoch only a year after he acquired The Times, needs the approval of a majority of the paper's government-appointed national directors.
Although Evans has boosted the paper's circulation, he has not satisfied Murdoch that The Times retains its editorial authority. His appointment of new senior journalists has been expensive, in terms of both money and staff morale.