James Harding resigned as editor of Rupert Murdoch’s The Times neswspaper in December saying, “It has been made clear to me that News Corporation would like to appoint a new editor of The Times.” Reports suggested that Harding’s departure was the result of upset at The Times’ parent company over the paper’s somewhat critical stance during the phone-hacking scandal that had engulfed News Corp.’s UK press arm, News International. When Harding starts his new job as director of news and current affairs at the BBC on August 12, he’ll be joining another company that has seen its share of recent crises.
The BBC’s news division has been plagued by troubles in the past six months including the Jimmy Savile scandal, botched reporting at the flagship Newsnight program and walkouts by journalists. Its Panorama program is drawing fire this week over allegations that London School of Economics students were put in harm’s way during the filming of a documentary in North Korea.
“I believe James will give News a renewed sense of purpose as it moves on from what has been an undeniably difficult chapter,” BBC director general Tony Hall said today. “James has a very impressive track record as a journalist, editor and leader.” Harding has also held posts as business editor of The Times and Washington bureau chief of The Financial Times. Harding said he was “honored” to be a part of the BBC’s newsroom that is “trusted for its accuracy, respected for its fairness and admired for the courage of its reporting”. He will receive a salary of £340,000. The former head of news, Helen Boaden, stepped aside last November as the Savile crisis ramped up. She has since been made head of radio.