Marsh says he had set sights on role at BBC college

By Caitlin Pike

Today editor Kevin Marsh, who is quitting to be editor of the BBC’s new College of Journalism, has told Press Gazette he has been angling for the job.

Marsh said he will miss being on air after 27 years in broadcast journalism, but he was looking for a new challenge.

"I wouldn’t want to go onto another programme and I don’t want to enter ‘suitdom’ — which would have been my other option.

"I’ve been angling for something at the college for a while. Vin Ray [director of the College of Journalism] is a terrific guy and the books he has written on journalism are very highly regarded."

Among Marsh’s duties will be editing a website the college is building, which the BBC hopes will become highly influential.

He told Press Gazette that his time as editor of BBC Radio 4’s Today, particularly surviving the Hutton Inquiry, puts him in an excellent position to be part of the new college’s core team.

Marsh, who succeeded Rod Liddle in 2002, was in the editor’s seat when Andrew Gilligan broadcast his "sexed up" dossier claims on the programme. A well-respected journalist who was seen as a safe pair of hands following Liddle’s controversial editorship, Marsh came in for some criticism during the Hutton Inquiry following the death of weapons inspector David Kelly.

"My experience with Hutton has inevitably made me analyse things more, particularly the editing style that you adopt and how line managers in broadcasting handle reporters.

"With broadcasting you just don’t know what will be said on air, and how you manage that is really, really hard.

That is definitely one of the areas that we will be covering at the college."

While other senior figures, including then head of news Richard Sambrook, moved on to other posts after the findings of Hutton, Marsh kept his job and is credited with having achieved consistently high audience figures.

Marsh explained that the BBC college had three main aims: raising skills levels in the BBC, establishing the college as the place where all key debates about journalism take place and building relationships with external bodies involved in the progression of journalism.

"We want this to be a world-beater, up there with Columbia and Poynter, but better. So any debate about anything that matters in politics, journalism or citizenship will be conducted at the highest possible level at the college.

"We are also intent on building good relationships with external bodies. I don’t believe there is enough taught about ethics and values in journalism.

"I’ve given seven lectures in institutions this year. If I ask them whether they have a compulsory module in ethics for undergraduate and postgraduates the answer has been ‘no’."

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