Phylicia Oppelt has been announced as the new editor of the Sunday Times, the first woman editor of the 107-year-old newspaper. Incumbent Ray Hartley is going on a two month sabbatical before rejoining Times Media Group in a management position. Oppelt will leave The Times to take the helm of South Africa’s biggest selling Sunday paper.
“Phylicia has been an outstanding editor of The Times taking it to a leadership position in the all important Gauteng market. It is a testament to her skill and dedication to the craft of journalism that she becomes the first woman editor of SA’s leading newspaper,” said Mike Robertson, managing director of Times Media.
Robertson said during Hartley’s tenure as editor, Sunday Times journalists have won virtually all awards on offer, including the most prestigious Standard Bank Sivukile and Taco Kuiper awards for investigative journalism. “Under his leadership the newspaper has undertaken some groundbreaking investigations – the awards the Sunday Times investigations team has won during the three years of his editorship are testament to that,” he said.
Robertson said Hartley had been instrumental in restoring the paper’s status as South Africa’s leading investigative title”.
The news hit social network Twitter at lightning speed, with the subject of ‘Phylicia Oppelt’ becoming a trending top in a short space of time, and the congratulatory tweets flooding in.
“Congratulations to the fantastic Phylicia Oppelt,” tweeted Mel Bala.
“Lovely to see a woman edit the biggest weekly in SA,” said Zeena Isaacs.
“I like Phylicia Oppelt. She’s a great journalist. I wish her all the best at the Sunday Times. I’ll congratulate her myself when I see her,” wrote Jobe S Sithole, who also said, “David Bullard was right then. Ray Hartley, editor of the Sunday Times to be replaced by Phylicia Oppelt.”
“Good news for the Sunday Times in South Africa,” Fray Intermedia posted.
“Love this news!” said Joonji Mdyogolo.
Oppelt, who won the Women in The Media award in 2011, has had a long career with Times Media, which includes a four-year period as a columnist and op-ed editor for the Sunday Times, editor at the Daily Dispatch (2005 – 2008), and editor of Business Times (2008 – 2010). In 2010, Oppelt was appointed as editor of the fledgling national daily newspaper, The Times, which entered the market in June 2007 under the editorship of Hartley.
Oppelt takes over on 1 March. A new editor for The Times is yet to be announced.