City AM editor Christian May exits free daily (and journalism)

City AM editor Christian May is leaving the paper and journalism, he has told Press Gazette.

May has edited the free business daily for five years but will depart this week, before taking up a role next year that has yet to be announced, but which he said will not be within the news industry.

Deputy editor Andy Silvester, a former Sun PR and leader writer, will step up as acting editor.

May said editing the newspaper has been “the best five years of my life”, during which time he also met his wife and has had two children.

He said it was this change in personal circumstances that led to his decision to leave, which had been in the works for some months.

He said his plans were put on hold to steer City AM through choppy waters, as the lockdown hit both its free distribution model targeting commuters and its income from advertising.

It continues to operate as a digital-only news title and will not return to print until next year at present.

May said: “When I started this job I was a single man for whom midnight finishes were easily absorbed. These days I have a young family and I’d like to see more of them. I believe the feeling is mutual. Therefore I’d known for a while that 2020 would be the year when I moved on from this job.

“I began to explore a change of career in early March, but of course by the end of that month our entire team was working remotely and by early April we had suspended the print operation as the country went into its first lockdown.”

May said he accepted a job offer over the summer that “represented an exciting career change”, but he agreed not to start until January 2021 “in order to stick with the company during a uniquely challenging time”.

He added: “While it saddens me that I won’t be able to write any more leader columns or splash headlines before I go, I shall look back on my five years at the paper with enormous affection and great pride.

“When I took the job, a friend who knew a thing or two about editing newspapers told me ‘it’s the most fun you can have with your trousers on’ – and he was right. I wish everyone at City AM the very best of luck and I look forward to joining the ranks of its commuter readers in 2021.”

May joined City AM from the PR team at the Institute of Directors in August 2015. Under his editorship City AM’s website traffic has grown by more than 70%. He also relaunched City AM Magazine and started a weekly podcast, which he’ll continue to present until the end of the year.

Jens Torpe, City AM’s founder and chief executive, said May had “cemented the paper’s position as required reading in the City, and has been instrumental in developing a number of new products”.

Torpe said Silvester had been “at the heart of our digital-first strategy since lockdown began” and had “shown great leadership during a challenging period”.

He added: “We are confident in his ability to manage a talented group of journalists and be at the forefront of City AM’s robust business journalism over the coming months.”

May said he had “every confidence” in Silvester and the wider editorial and commercial teams.

Picture: City AM

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