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October 5, 2015

Guardian editor Katharine Viner: ‘Some people are a bit disconcerted that their boss is a woman’

By Dominic Ponsford

Guardian editor Katharine Viner has given her first interview since taking over from Alan Rusbridger, to Vogue magazine.

She was interviewed in August ten weeks after taking up the job and the piece features in the November edition, which is out on Thursday.

Viner saw off competition from internal candidates Janine Gibson, Wolfgang Blau and Emily Gibson, and from Newsnight editor Ian Katz.

The final decision is believed to have been between Katz, a former deputy editor of The Guardian, and Viner.

Then chair of the Scott Trust Liz Forgan spoke to Vogue about the appointment process: “We all agreed it would be wonderful if the candidate was a woman, but if a stronger candidate was a man, we would appoint a man.”

Viner is the first female Guardian editor. As editor-in-chief she also oversees the website and The Observer.

In the interview she does not talk about whether her gender has influenced the way she does the job, other than to  say: “Well, a recent headline, ‘Smack My Beach Up’, certainly won’t be appearing again.”

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The headline has been changed and accompanied a story about Pamela Anderson’s criticism of a new Baywatch movie.

Viner describes her editing style  as “very open, very collaborative” and she likes to bring “a lot of energy to things”.

She also reveals that she conducts the daily morning conference standing up: “It makes for quite a dynamic meeting, grabbing people from around the room.”

Viner said The Guardian is a "place where women really thrive", but added: "Obviously, just now and again, you can tell some people are just a bit disconcerted that their boss is a woman."

The interview also reveals that Viner, 44, has a house in Peckham, which was rented out when she moved to the United States to edit The Guardian's website there. She is currently renting a flat in Borough, near London Bridge.

She takes the tube to work, “her heels tucked in an oversized MZ Wallace quilted handbag”, is not married and does not have any children.

Asked whether she could do the job with three children at home, she told the magazine: “I wouldn’t know because I don’t have them”,  adding that it was an issue brought up to “divide women”.

Viner describes The Guardian as “about being on people’s side. It’s a vastly unequal world and we’re with the majority who aren’t in the super elite.”

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