ITV News editor Geoff Hill issues emotional message to staff as illness forces him to step down

ITV News editor Geoff Hill has stepped down and bid an emotional farewell to staff after the return of the cancer he has fought for three years.

Hill, who was appointed ITV News editor in 2013, told the team he was “utterly devastated” to be leaving – especially as he had been hoping to return to work full-time within weeks.

But after being told his leukaemia had relapsed, Hill decided to step down and concentrate on fighting the disease “with everything I have”.

Hill told staff: “There’s only one thing worse than your worst day at ITV News, and that’s not being there at all. Trust me, I know what that’s like.

“I just can’t believe it’s come to an end, and that the timing is completely out of my control.”

Scroll down to read Hill’s email to staff in full

Hill was diagnosed with leukaemia in late 2017 and has since been on medical leave. Acting editor Rachel Corp has led the newsroom in his absence, although he has returned to work when his health permitted.

Being appointed ITV News editor was the “proudest moment of my entire working life,” Hill (pictured) said.

“And as I step down today, I would be greatly honoured to think that you all considered me worthy of the office, and that I brought a fresh perspective to managing the newsroom whilst doing my very best to uphold the finest journalistic traditions of ITV News and ITN.”

ITV’s director of news and current affairs Michael Jermey praised Hill as a “kind man with an enormously warm heart and a generous spirit” who “encourages and supports individuals and teams to be their best”.

“I admire his achievements and am proud to call him a friend,” Jermey added. “We have sent him every best wish in his fight for a full recovery.”

Hill was responsible for ITV’s national news programmes, ITV News London, the ITN-produced Tonight programmes, current affairs show On Assignment, and live specials and documentaries for ITV.

His editorship included the EU and Scottish referendums, the election of Donald Trump in 2016, and the 2015 and 2017 UK general elections.

He joined the team from 5 News where he spent two years as editor, leading the programme’s relaunch and building a new newsroom when it returned to ITN in 2011.

Hill has spent almost 20 years at ITN in roles including programme editor, with responsibility for ITV News at Ten, and editor-in-chief of sports channel Setanta Sports News. His time at ITN was broken only by a stint as director of coverage for CNN International.

Hill told staff he had admired their work during the coronavirus pandemic and reminded them they have a “tremendous responsibility and with it enormous opportunity, one you must embrace each and every day”.

ITN chief executive Anna Mallett said: “This is an extremely sad day for all of us here. Geoff is – and always will be – a huge part of the ITN family.

“He has been not just a journalist and leader of the highest calibre during his career with us, but also a much-admired friend and mentor to so many.

“We will of course be offering Geoff as much support as he needs, and we are all looking forward to the day he is well enough to work again in the world of broadcast journalism that he loves so much.”

Corp will continue to oversee ITV News and an announcement on Hill’s permanent replacement is expected to be made shortly.

Hill’s full email to staff this morning, published with permission:

Dear all,

It’s almost impossible to find the words to truly express how utterly devastated I am to have to write this note. It’s the note I often feared I would have to write, but hoped I never would. 

I have just been informed by my consultant that I have relapsed once again, so it is with the deepest regret and sadness that I have told Anna and Michael that, unfortunately, I am unable to return as Editor of ITV News.

I felt incredibly lucky to get a job as a home newsdesk editor 20 years ago, and I have felt honoured to be associated with ITN and ITV News ever since. When I turned up at Gray’s Inn Road for my first shift, I was still pinching myself at the prospect of working alongside the giants of our industry. If anyone had told me then that one day I would be appointed editor, I would have thought they were mad. I was just so pleased to be there.

When I was appointed editor of this great newsroom in 2013 it was the proudest moment of my entire working life. And as I step down today, I would be greatly honoured to think that you all considered me worthy of the office, and that I brought a fresh perspective to managing the newsroom whilst doing my very best to uphold the finest journalistic traditions of ITV News and ITN.

As most of you know my association with ITV News stretches back to the LNN days. I joined from local papers in 1993, and I was instantly captivated by the adrenalin and camaraderie of television news.

Over the years at ITV News I’ve been lucky enough to work in the field on big stories such as the Israel/Lebanon war, US elections and the Germany World Cup. But most of my work was back at HQ.

I was lucky enough to spend several happy years as a programme editor at ITV News. I then spent six years away from the newsroom, launching Setanta Sports News, working at CNN and then returning to ITN to relaunch 5 News. That was a huge challenge, but we successfully bottled up and brought back the team’s creative and entrepreneurial spirit and sprinkled it liberally in a corner of Richard Desmond’s empire, tucked in between the Daily Express and the Daily Star.

Returning to ITV News as editor was like coming home. And I was lucky to lead the newsroom through a period of incredible change across the world, as together we reported the surprise elections in 2015 and 2017, the Scottish referendum, the EU referendum of 2016, the election of Trump and the relentless stream of stories in 2017. Not to mention the changes to Evening News and News at Ten.

And now, as we witness perhaps the biggest change of all, I can only watch from the side lines and admire the way you have all handled the coronavirus pandemic.

I was so excited about returning to work. I couldn’t believe it was really happening. But this aggressive disease is at its most cruel just when you think things are starting to improve. In the same way it has savaged my health and denied me the simple pleasures of life, and prevented me making plans for the future, it has now taken away the job, the newsroom and the colleagues that I have admired and respected for so many years.

For me, the future is uncertain. But I am in the fight. I haven’t endured countless rounds of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and medical procedures to give up now. I will fight this thing with everything I have, with the brilliant medical team at King’s, and with the amazing support of my wonderful family and friends.

As I write this it feels as though my time at ITV News has gone very quickly. I sincerely hope your time won’t be stopped as abruptly as the day I was torn away from the newsroom, but when it does come to an end you’ll look back, as I am now, and you’ll realise how quickly it went.

So please remember this: what we do – what you do – is a tremendous honour, and a privilege. You work for the best news organisation in the world. You have a tremendous responsibility and with it enormous opportunity, one you must embrace each and every day. There’s only one thing worse than your worst day at ITV News, and that’s not being there at all. Trust me, I know what that’s like. I just can’t believe it’s come to an end, and that the timing is completely out of my control.

I want to thank Anna and Michael for all of their incredible support, and for kindly saying they’ll find me another job when the time is right. You haven’t seen the last of me yet!

And finally I want to thank all of you, for your wonderful messages, your phone calls, your visits and all of the other acts of kindness which have meant so much to me.

I wish you all the very best with the challenges which lie ahead.

With much love and admiration,

Geoff

X

Picture: ITN

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