James Harding, the former editor of News Corp.’s The Times of London newspaper, was named head of news at the British Broadcasting Corporation, as the U.K. broadcaster seeks to restore public confidence following child sex-abuse reporting scandals.
Harding, who took over at The Times at age 38, stepped down in December saying it was clear News Corp. executives wanted a new editor, the London-based BBC said on its website today. Harding previously served as Washington bureau chief at the Financial Times.
“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 in the BBC statement.
Harding inherits a news desk coping with reporting missteps, including at the “Newsnight” program. The BBC replaced senior editors at the current-affairs show in December after errors in investigative reports. One involved the decision to cancel a broadcast looking into claims that former BBC host Jimmy Savile abused children, and a second involved the publication of an erroneous report linking a former Conservative party treasurer to child molestation.
Then Director General George Entwistle resigned in the wake of the reports after only two months on the job. The BBC’s former head of news, Helen Boaden, is now in charge of BBC Radio, the broadcaster said today on its website.
A probe into the Savile case, led by former British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc head of news Nick Pollard, faulted the BBC’s “rigid” management structure and sharing information as contributing to a breakdown in decision-making at the news desk.