This is based on my article in ‘The ITN 55 Club Newsletter’ produced by and for ITN alumni.
“It went down like a cup of cold sick.Another ‘name’ on a massive salary, but this time with no obvious TV reporting experience.”
A warm ITN welcome to ITN Noreena Hertz,the new Economics Editor of ITV News.
Whether or not an ‘insider’ actually gave that quote to a Guardian reporter we shouldn’t be surprised that newsrooms of high quality broadcast news people are unsettled by the arrival of somebody with no broadcast news experience. Ms Hertz,best known as an academic economist,wisely told her new colleagues “I know that I have a lot to learn”.
It is not the first time this has happened.I can think of two previous occasions,both involving women economists, and neither turned out well.But I’m left wondering whose fault that was.
Ruth Lea was a star City pundit in the mid-1990s,a regular guest on all our programmes when David Mannion persuaded her to leave Lehmann Brothers and join ITN’s staff.She soon moved on to a series of high profile roles in organisations such as the Institute of Directors and last year was awarded a CBE.
Last month she came over to me at a restaurant and happily reminisced about her short time at ITN. But the consensus ITN view would probably be that Ruth didn’t work out because she ‘wasn’t good at packaging’ .She wasn’t but maybe we should have worked around that to utilise her talents. It reminded me of Sarah (now Baroness) Hogg’s time as Economics Correspondent in the early days of Channel Four News. She too left to build a successful career elsewhere. In Sarah’s case it was my decision to rebuild the troubled C4N around Peter Sissons as the main anchor that precipitated her departure but Sarah had remarkable and often exclusive insights into the British political economy that were lost because ‘we can’t work out how to turn them into a package’.
Things have changed a lot. Specialist correspondents now have their own producers who can help them with the packaging,they can show their own expertise in two-ways with Tom Bradby and in online blogs.
The best example I can think of is the new National Editor of ITV News,Allegra Stratton. When she was appointed as Michael Crick’s successor as Political Editor of Newsnight in 2012,she had little on-screen reporting experience and my goodness it showed.But Allegra and Newsnight persevered and she began to emerge during the last election campaign. Now she has made a real impact on ITV by her reporting of the issues in the EU referendum campaign and her role as Robert Peston’s side-kick on ITV’s ‘Peston on Sunday’.
Noreena Hertz has now made an understandably nervous debut on ITV news (http://www.itv.com/news/update/2016-07-05/economics-editor-on-bank-of-englands-challenging-outlook-warning/) but hopefully her editors and colleagues will show a little patience .