Students Staff

04 August 2014

Former BBC news editor to lead new journalism degree

Jonathan Baker

Jonathan Baker

A former Editor of the BBC Ten O’Clock News has joined the University of Essex as its founding Professor of Journalism.

Jonathan Baker, who left the BBC earlier this year after more than 30 years in news, is the University’s first founding professor for more than 20 years in a new curriculum area.

Mr Baker has held a number of senior positions across BBC television, radio and newsgathering, including Executive Editor Radio News, World News Editor and Head of Newsgathering. He was Editor of the Nine O’Clock News when it moved to its present, later, slot.

Between 2010 and 2013 he was Head of the BBC College of Journalism, responsible for delivering all forms of journalism training to more than 8,000 BBC journalists in the UK and overseas.

At Essex, he will be responsible for developing an innovative curriculum for undergraduate and postgraduate courses, and seeking accreditation from the National Council for the Training of Journalists and the Broadcast Journalism Training Council.

The degree is being offered by the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies with the first students due to register in autumn 2015.

Jonathan Baker said: “I am delighted and honoured to be asked to establish the University’s first degree programme in journalism. In spite of the difficult economic climate, media organisations still want energetic and inquiring graduates with a strong grip on the practical and theoretical aspects of the job.

“We’ll be looking for students who are discriminating, sceptical and independent of mind, with a gift for expressing themselves and a desire to communicate, regardless of what they have studied at A Level.

“The course will cover all the basic essentials of good journalism, with students producing and publishing real stories almost from day one. In addition to significant investment by the University in staff and facilities dedicated to journalism, our students will also be able to take advantage of connections in other University departments – such as sociology, government and economics – to broaden their overall knowledge and understanding of the world they will be reporting as qualified journalists.”

Professor Lorna Fox-O’Mahony, Executive Dean (Humanities) said: “We are excited to add journalism to our portfolio, and delighted that Jonathan is joining us to lead the programme. He has a long and distinguished record in journalism.

“A newly-created course in journalism will be well placed to reflect the emergence of social media and new platforms, which are changing the ways in which we all get our news. That in turn is changing the nature of journalism, and the way journalists work. We’re committed to producing top-class graduates who are fully equipped to thrive in this changing media landscape.”

Colin Channon, Editor in Chief of local newspaper group Newsquest Essex, said: “It is vital that journalists coming into the industry have all the skills necessary in today’s multi-media world. The University intends to produce journalists ready to walk into any newsroom in the industry and deliver what is needed.

“I am very keen for my Newsquest titles to play a big part in the degree, and I am sure our future partnership will deliver great benefits and, very importantly, offer hands-on journalism experience to the students.”

Find out more about the degree in Journalism.


More information

For further information please contact the University of Essex Communications Office, telephone: 01206 873529 or email:

Jonathan Baker has held senior positions across BBC News for more than 20 years and was the first person to be editor of all three main television news bulletins. He has held positions at: BBC Radio 4 (Assistant Editor, Today programme 1989-91); BBC Radio News (Editor, later Executive Editor, 1991-95); BBC Radio 5 Live (Executive Editor, 1995-96) and BBC Television News (Editor, One O’Clock News and Six O’Clock News, 1996-97, and Editor, Nine O’Clock News, 1997-2001). More recently he has been World News Editor (2001-06) and Deputy Head of Newsgathering (2006-10) at BBC Newsgathering. From 2010-13 he was Head of the BBC College of Journalism before taking on a trouble-shooting role for BBC News in 2013. Prior to joining the BBC he was a prize-winning newspaper journalist.

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