Peter Preston, who has died aged 79, was editor of the The Guardian for 20 years and went on writing for more than two decades afterwards as a quirky political columnist on the paper and as a media pundit on its sister publication, the The Observer.
Preston’s editorship, from 1975 to 1995, bridged the massive gap between the inky, high-minded world of his predecessor, Alastair Hetherington, who had changed the title from the Manchester Guardian and moved the head office to London, and the brave new digital world of his successor, Alan Rusbridger.
Preston was the first newspaper editor in Britain to be appointed by the votes of the paper’s journalists, a process pioneered in France at Le Monde. The deputy editor, John Cole, later the BBC’s political editor, had the support of the paper’s writing elite, but Preston was the choice of the rank and file.
They had got to know and admire him through...
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