Lionel Barber

Lionel Barber (born 18 January 1955)[1] is an English journalist. He served as editor of the Financial Times (FT) from 2005 to 2020.

Lionel Barber
Barber at the Boldness in Business Awards 2013 in London
Born (1955-01-18) 18 January 1955 (age 66)[1]
EducationDulwich College
Alma materSt Edmund Hall, Oxford
TitleFormer editor of the Financial Times (2005–2020)

Barber worked at The Scotsman and The Sunday Times before working at the FT from the mid-1980s.

Barber was a well-regarded editor of the FT. He was credited with raising its journalistic standards, transforming it into a global brand, navigating its transition into the digital era, growing readership, and managing its takeover by Nikkei.[2]

Early life and career

Barber was born on 18 January 1955 to a journalist father.[3] He was educated at Dulwich College, an independent school for boys in Dulwich in South London, and at St Edmund Hall, Oxford, graduating in 1978 with an upper second[4] joint honours degree in German and modern history. He worked for a company in Germany as an interpreter, before being offered a job on the Thomson regional training scheme.[5]


Barber began his career in journalism in 1978 as a reporter for The Scotsman. In 1981, after being named Young Journalist of the Year in the British Press Awards, he became a business correspondent at The Sunday Times,[6] having been interviewed by its editor Frank Giles. By 1982 he was the Enterprising Britain correspondent (a title used to denote the position that became known as industrial correspondent).[4] The co-writer of several books, his works includes a history of Reuters news agency (The Price of Truth, 1985) and the Westland affair (Not with Honour, 1986).

Barber joined the Financial Times in 1985.[5] His positions at the paper included Washington correspondent and US editor (1986–1992), Brussels bureau chief (1992–1998), and news editor (1998–2000). He was formerly the editor of the FT Continental European edition (2000–2002), during which he briefed US President George W. Bush ahead of his first trip to Europe.

In November 2005, he was appointed editor of the Financial Times,[7] having believed the newspaper was in need of a different editor.[4] In his capacity as editor, Barber interviewed figures including Barack Obama, Wen Jiabao, Dmitry Medvedev, Vladimir Putin, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Angela Merkel, David Cameron and Manmohan Singh.[8]

In October 2018, he said it was "time for a revolution" at the newspaper after sharing a reader's letter that criticised it for a "lack of diversity" among its columnists.[9]

Barber was the second longest-serving editor in the FT's history (after Sir Gordon Newton),[4] having stepped down on 17 January 2020 after 14 years.[10][11] He was succeeded by Roula Khalaf.

In 2020 Barber began presenting What Next?, an interview podcast for LBC.[12]


In July 2012, Barber was accused of intimidating and threatening a member of staff at the Financial Times. Steve Lodge, who worked as a personal finance writer at the newspaper, was brought before a disciplinary panel following an incident in which the Financial Times claimed demonstrated he "had a problem working for women". Barber was accused of "losing his temper and raising his voice" in a manner that breached the newspaper's procedures.[13]

Awards and recognition

Barber has received a number of awards and distinctions for his journalistic work.[14]

In 1981, he was named Young Journalist of the Year in the British Press Awards. In 1998, he was named one of the 101 most influential Europeans by Le Nouvel Observateur.

In 1985, he was the Laurence Stern fellow at The Washington Post. In 1992, he was a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, working under Nelson Polsby at the Institute of Governmental Studies. In 1996, he was a visiting fellow at the Robert Schuman Centre at the European University Institute in Florence.

In 2009, Barber was awarded the St George Society medal of honour for his contribution to journalism in the transatlantic community. In February 2011, he was appointed to the Board of Trustees at The Tate. He also serves on the Board of Trustees of the Carnegie Corporation of New York.[15]

In 2016, he was made a Chevalier (knight) in the French Ordre National de la Légion d'Honneur for his "contribution to high-quality journalism, and the Financial Times' positive role in the European debate".[16]

In 2020, Barber received the Gerald Loeb Lifetime Achievement Award for excellence in business journalism.[17]

Personal life

Barber has a daughter and a son, born in Washington DC in 1988 and 1990.[18] He lives with them and his wife Victoria, in London.[3]

He is fluent in French and German.[3]


  • Ralph Lawrenson, John; Barber, Lionel (1985). The Price of Truth: The Story of the Reuters £££ Millions. Mainstream Publishing. ISBN 9780722154878.
  • Barber, Lionel (1998). Britain and the New European Agenda. Centre for European Reform. ISBN 9781901229073.
  • Barber, Lionel (2019). Lunch with the FT: A Second Helping. Penguin Books. ISBN 9780241400715.
  • Appiah, Kwame Anthony & Lionel Barber (Winter 2019). Moderated by Scott Malcomson. "The unity in disunity : looking at the world of globalization". Carnegie Conversation. Carnegie Reporter. 11 (1): 8–15.


  1. Who's Who
  2. O'Toole, Fintan (31 October 2020). "The Powerful and the Damned by Lionel Barber review – cosying up to power?". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 October 2020.
  3. Morris, Sophie (7 January 2008). "Lionel Barber: My Life in Media". The Independent. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  4. James O'Brien (12 November 2020). "Lionel Barber". (Podcast). Full Disclosure with James O'Brien. Retrieved 12 November 2020.
  5. Paul Blanchard (19 October 2017). "Lionel Barber - Former Editor, Financial Times". (Podcast). Media Masters. Retrieved 2 February 2021.
  6. "Lionel Barber" (PDF). Financial Times. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 March 2009.
  7. "New editor at the FINANCIAL TIMES" (PDF). Press Business (1). February 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 October 2013. Retrieved 7 October 2013.
  8. "Lionel Barber | Speaking Fee & Booking Agent – Chartwell". Expert Keynote and Motivational Speakers | Chartwell Speakers. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  9. Mayhew, Freddy (16 October 2018). "'Time for a revolution' says FT editor Lionel Barber as he publishes letter criticising 'lack of diversity' among paper's columnists". Press Gazette. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  10. Barker, Alex (12 November 2019). "Lionel Barber to step down as Financial Times editor". Financial Times.
  11. Mayhew, Freddy. "Lionel Barber says FT staff are 'family' in speech on last day as editor". Press Gazette. Retrieved 20 January 2020.
  12. "Introducing 'What Next?' with Lionel Barber". Retrieved 22 December 2020.
  13. Rushton, Katherine (24 July 2012). "FT editor Lionel Barber 'threatened' sacked staff member, court hears". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  14. "Lionel Barber – Speakers for Schools". Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  15. "Lionel Barber | Financial Times".
  16. Sweney, Mark (8 August 2016). "FT editor to be honoured by France for 'positive role' in EU debate". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 August 2016.
  17. Daillak, Jonathan (6 October 2020). "2020 Gerald Loeb Award Finalists, Career Achievement Honorees and Date of Virtual Awards Event Announced by UCLA Anderson". PR Newswire (Press release). UCLA Anderson School of Management. Retrieved 7 October 2020.
  18. A’Lee Frost, Amber (22 July 2019). "Lionel Barber on his tenure as Financial Times editor, why his paper appeals to millennials, and the correct journalistic response to Trump and Brexit". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved 14 November 2019.