Williams, a past Specialist Writer of the Year winner at the Regional Press Awards, has long been courted by national papers, but had always refused job offers on the basis that she wished to stay in the North.
The news was broken by Sebastian Payne, FT’s Whitehall Editor, who said on Twitter: “Could not be more thrilled that Jen Williams is joining the FT as our new Northern England correspondent.
“Chuffed that one of the best journalists in the land is joining our merry band - expect top coverage on levelling up, mayors and much more.”
Williams herself tweeted: “After eleven and a half years, hundreds of council meetings and what I’m pretty confident has been literally millions of Andy Burnham press conferences, I’m waving goodbye to the wonderful Manchester Evening News, to join the FT as northern corr.
“It’s an amazing opportunity but just want to say first what an absolute privilege it’s been to work at the MEN.
“As excited as I am, it is going to be an emotional wrench. We have the most fantastic team, with the most fantastic history, led by the most fantastic Sarah Lester.
“Anyone who says regional/local news is dead is wrong. We’ve tried - and the MEN will continue to try - to show just how important it is for our communities to be seen and heard, rather than taken for granted or dismissed; hopefully I can do something over a wider area for the FT.”
Matt Tee, the former boss of IPSO, tweeted: “That is an amazing appointment. Nationals have been trying to prise Jen away from the MEN for years. She’s a great addition to a very strong team at the FT and they’re very lucky to get her.”
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