James Harding (journalist)
James Paul Harding (born 15 September 1969) is a British journalist. In December 2007, he was named editor of The Times newspaper, the youngest person to become editor of The Times. following Robert Thomson's appointment as publisher of the Wall Street Journal.
Early life and career
Harding was educated at The Hall School Hampstead and St. Paul's School in Barnes, near Hammersmith in London, followed by Trinity College, Cambridge (where he attained a First Class degree in history) and City University. Harding also spent a year studying at Davidson College in the United States. Before entering the media, he studied Japanese at the School of Oriental and African Studies and worked as a speechwriter to Koichi Kato, who was Chief Secretary to the Cabinet of Japan, and for the Japan unit of the European Commission.
He began his career as a journalist at the Financial Times in 1994 and two years later opened the paper's Shanghai bureau where he covered the opening up of the Chinese financial markets, remaining there until 1999.
Editor of The Times
After serving for three years as the Financial Times' Washington bureau chief, he joined The Times in Summer 2006 as Business Editor. His promotion to editor emerged in December 2007. Harding, the grandson of a German Jewish refugee, was its first Jewish editor. The Times, with Harding as editor, won the Newspaper of the Year Award for 2008 in March 2009 at the British Press Awards. Harding was responsible for the cancellation, and then re-introduction of the Times2 supplement in October 2010 after seven months, following complaints from readers.
With a reportedly unsustainable editorial budget, voluntary and compulsory redundancies were announced in June 2010, along the introduction of charges for readers for the digital edition. At the end of the previous month, Harding had asserted that the internet could "wipe out" the newspaper without a paywall being introduced.
Harding said in 2011 that he "[believes] in the state of Israel. I would have had a real problem if I had been coming to a paper with a history of being anti-Israel... We wrote an editorial called 'In defence of Israel' during the Gaza offensive, but we also reported on the use of white phosphorus, which was the Israelis breaking their own rules." He also said at this time that the BBC does not have "a pro-Israel newsroom and it has taken management to get some balance in there". Accordingly, Harding found this "frustrating because, unlike The Times where you can just choose not to buy it, you have to pay for the BBC."
Leveson and after
During his oral submission at the Leveson Inquiry on 7 February 2012, Harding apologised for the withholding of information from the High Court, without his knowledge, that Patrick Foster, then a reporter on his newspaper, in 2009 had hacked into the blogger NightJack's email account in order to identify him. Richard Horton, then a Lancashire detective constable, the author, had used Nightjack as a pseudonym for his blog on policing matters. He asserted that Alastair Brett, then legal manager at The Times, had kept knowledge about the hacking from him when the newspaper had successfully appealed against an injunction application in the High Court preventing publication and preserving Horton's privacy. Apologising also to Horton and Mr Justice Eady, who had sat at the hearing, Harding said that he only learned of the newspaper's action after the court hearing in June 2009 had taken place.
Post-Leveson, Harding took on the role of negotiating with Oliver Letwin, who as Minister of State at the Cabinet Office was the Prime Minister David Cameron's representative, with the proposal of a new supervisory model for press regulation backed by a Royal charter.
In an article for The Times published on 27 November 2012, he advocated a system of independent regulation, in place of the discredited system of self-regulation, and rejected statutory regulation of the press: "We must [reform] in a way that keeps Parliament and the press apart." Harding also wrote: "The failure of News International to get to grips with what had happened at one of its newspapers suggested that the company had succumbed to that most dangerous delusion of the powerful, namely that it could play by its own set of rules." Coming from this corporate source, Roy Greenslade thought Harding's suggestion was a "significant innovation".
Leaves The Times and joins the BBC
Harding left The Times at the end of 2012 after it had become apparent that he no longer had the support of Rupert Murdoch, or the board. It was reported in The Daily Telegraph that Murdoch had objected to the way The Times had covered the News International phone-hacking scandal at the News of the World, and also that Harding appeared to be an obstacle to the company's intention to merge the daily and Sunday titles into a seven day operation. His final communication to his staff, was interpreted as indicating that he had not chosen to leave his post as editor. He commented in July 2013, that if a "proprietor had a different view of things from the editor, I understand that the proprietor is not leaving".
On 16 April 2013, his appointment as the new head of BBC News was announced, a post formerly held by Helen Boaden, although he did not formally take up the post until the following August. His previous role as an editor for a commercial rival to the BBC meant that The Times leader articles during his five years as the newspaper's editor were analysed. Ian Burrell of The Independent asserted thst The Times "was among the most strident" of the BBC's critics during this period.
- Stephen Glover (10 December 2007). "Changing 'Times': the challenges facing new editor James Harding". The Independent. Retrieved 22 September 2011.
- "Times newspaper editor James Harding to quit", BBC News, 12 December 2012
- Katherine Rushton "John Witherow named acting editor of The Times as News International eyes merger", telegraph.co.uk, 18 January 2013
- "Harding starts job as BBC News director", BBC News, 12 August 2013
- Andy McSmith (19 June 2010). "George Osborne: A silver spoon for the golden boy". The Independent. Retrieved 22 September 2011.
- Roy Greenslade (10 December 2010). "Harding, a product of City University". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 September 2011.
- Aidan Jones "Profile: James Harding", The Guardian, 7 December 2007
- Stephen Brook "Harding to take Times top job", guardian.co.uk, 7 December 2007
- James Harding "Don’t force the press into politicians’ arms", The Times, 27 November 2012
- Sarah Pilchick "Jewish editor of The Times resigns", The Jewish Chronicle, 12 December 2012
- Owen Amos "British Press Awards: Times is newspaper of the year", Press Gazette, March 2009
- John Plunkett (11 October 2010). "Times revives Times2 supplement". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 September 2011.
- James Harding "Read James Harding's email on redundancies at the Times", guardian.co.uk, 8 June 2010
- James Robinson "Times editor defends paywall plan", guardian.co.uk, 25 May 2010
- Jessica Elgot "Signs of The Times at JCC", The Jewish Chronicle, 14 April 2011
- "Times editor James Harding reappears before Leveson", telegraph.co.uk, 7 February 2012
- Lisa O'Carroll "Times editor apologises to high court judge for not disclosing email hacking, guardian.co.uk, 7 February 2012
- "Leveson Inquiry: Times editor in hacking email apology", BBC News, 7 February 2012
- Andrew Pugh "The Times and NightJack - the whole 'terrible' story", Press Gazette, 8 February 2012
- Dan Sabbagh "Fleet Street's harmonious response to Leveson falls apart", The Guardian, 12 December 2012
- Roy Greenslade "Harding dares to suggest a third way between state and self-regulation", guardian.co.uk, 27 November 2012
- Katherine Rushton "James Harding steps down as editor of The Times", telegraph.co.uk, 12 December 2013
- Roy Greenslade "James Harding gets a terrific send-off as staff signal their support for him", guardian.co.uk (Grenslade's blog), 13 December 2013
- James Harding "Times editor James Harding's resignation speech to editorial staff", guardian.co.uk, 12 December 2013
- Lisa O'Carroll "Times editor James Harding resigns", guardian.co.uk, 12 December 2013
- Gavriel Hollander "James Harding admits he was pushed out of The Times editor's chair", Press Gazette, 5 July 2013
- Jake Kanter "James Harding scoops BBC news chief role", Broadcast, 16 April 2013
- Josh Halliday "James Harding named BBC News chief", guardian.co.uk, 16 April 2013
- Ian Burrell "'Honoured' to join the BBC: James Harding - the man who tore it to bits", The Independent, 16 April 2013
- Robert Colvile (16 August 2008). "Review: Alpha Dogs by James Harding". The Telegraph. Retrieved 22 September 2011.
- Leonard Doyle (19 September 2008). "Alpha dogs, by James Harding : Vote-hounds at the thin end of a social wedge". The Independent. Retrieved 22 September 2011.
Robert James Thomson
|Editor of The Times