How to fix the UK’s National News Council’s ills

A national news council that once had a strong voice in the UK government is now dominated by a few men.

With less than a year to go until Britain votes in a referendum on whether to leave the European Union, the council has lost more than a quarter of its seats and is facing a new leadership crisis.

In a new investigation, the BBC’s Andrew Marr reveals that its most senior political editor has quit, its political editor, the former chief executive of the BBC News Channel, and a former director of public affairs has resigned in the wake of the crisis.

“The whole organisation has been put in a very bad place,” Marr said.

The political editor and the political editor both have been very good at making decisions and they both do a good job but there’s no political direction or any real coherent strategy behind what’s happening.””

There’s no real balance.

The political editor and the political editor both have been very good at making decisions and they both do a good job but there’s no political direction or any real coherent strategy behind what’s happening.”

Read more from Andrew Marrs blog: The BBC’s new national news and current affairs editor is Andrew Marr. 

The story begins in the summer of 2020 when the then-head of news, Andrew Marris, became the first director of news in the history of the news organisation to resign from the position he had held since becoming editor of the National Press Club in 1999.

But it wasn’t just the resignations that caused the council to falter.

Its previous political editor Andrew Hetherington, a former editor at the Daily Mirror, left the organisation in January 2020, only to return in the autumn to head the national news office.

As Marr reports, Hetherham’s departure left the news department with no new political editor in place and the council was struggling to find new faces to replace him.

That led to the appointment of Marr, a veteran political editor with extensive experience in Europe and the Middle East, as the new national editor. 

Marr told Marr the move had been a “mistake” but said he would not resign.

He said he was “shocked” by the appointment and said he wanted to bring the political editorial team together “to try to rebuild the news room”.

“I think there’s a lot of good people at the national press office,” Marrs told Marrs.

“But I think there are too many people who are just too focused on what they want to do and too focused upon what’s going on in the press, and it’s not in the public interest.”

It’s not about the news, it’s about what’s being covered.

It’s not a decision about what we’re going to do.

“The new national director of the UK National News and Current Affairs Office, Andrew Hitherington.

Hitherham’s appointment is the culmination of a reshuffle in the organisation which took place on the same day as the UK voted to leave Europe.

On June 16, 2020, Hitherham, a man whose background is in the Middle Eastern media, became editor of a national news division which was then split into the national and local news offices.

A year later, the new head of news became head of the national bureau.

Following that, the head of regional news, a political editor from London, took over. 

Despite the reshuffle, the news desk had lost around 15 percent of its political staff in the four months prior to the referendum, according to the BBC.

And while the national editor has said that his staff have been given a “strong mandate” to deliver “good news” and that they “will work hard to make sure that it does”, the news division was also struggling with “some of the worst news coverage and political coverage” the organisation had seen since it was created, Marr revealed.

At the time of his resignation, Hethington told the BBC that he had no plans to quit the job.

Now, with the council’s new head set to take over, the organisation is facing the prospect of losing its most experienced political editor.

Marr said: “They’ve decided that they want a leader.

They want someone who will bring in the right kind of people to take the organisation forward.

I don’t think that’s going to happen.

It’s all about making a decision on whether or not the national political editor is going to take a leadership role and they’re not going to give him that opportunity.

“And I don’t want to see that happen.”

Marrs said the political director is a key figure in the team and has been “very much involved” in decisions made since the new political director was appointed.

Read more about the BBC and the National News Commission. 

“The political director has been very much involved in the decision making and is a very good friend of the current political director,” he said.