BBC Hires Former London 'Times' Editor James Harding as News Director

12:49 AM PST 04/16/2013 by Georg Szalai

UPDATED: "He will give BBC News a renewed sense of purpose as it moves away from what has been an undeniably difficult chapter," says BBC boss Tony Hall in reference to the Jimmy Savile scandal.

The BBC on Tuesday said it has hired James Harding as director, BBC News and Current Affairs. He will be in charge of a news organization renowned around the world, but shaken by this fall's Jimmy Savile scandal and its handling.

Harding previously worked at News Corp.'s The Times, where he was editor from 2007 to 2012 until he resigned late last year. He told staff back then that News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch wanted to replace him, with critics pointing to the paper's critical coverage of the phone-hacking scandal as one possible reason. Before his time at The Times, he held a number of international posts at the Financial Times.

Harding replaces Helen Boaden, who has taken up the role of director, BBC Radio. Both report to new BBC director general Tony Hall.

The appointment follows an open recruitment process, a form of filling the top news post that is rare for the BBC. Harding begins his role in August and will get a compensation package worth $520,000 (£340,000), the BBC said.

Said Hall: “I am delighted that James will be joining as the new director of BBC News and Current Affairs. High-quality journalism sits right at the heart of the BBC making this is an absolutely critical role."

He also highlighted the importance of bringing new focus to BBC News after flagship news show Newsnight was found to have dropped a report about sexual abuse allegations against late BBC host Savile.

Said Hall: "James has a very impressive track record as a journalist, editor and manager. I believe he will give BBC News a renewed sense of purpose as it moves away from what has been an undeniably difficult chapter. As an organization, the BBC will also benefit from his external perspective and experience which he will share as a member of the BBC’s executive team."

Said Harding: "The BBC's newsroom strives to be the best in the world, trusted for its accuracy, respected for its fairness and admired for the courage of its reporting. I am honored to be a part of it."

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai

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