Ian Katz

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Ian Katz
Born (1968-02-09) 9 February 1968 (age 53)[1]
South Africa
EducationUniversity College School, Hampstead, London
Alma materNew College, Oxford
EmployerChannel 4
Notable credit(s)
Newsnight (BBC)
Spouse(s)Justine Roberts

Ian Alexander Katz (born 9 February 1968)[1] is a British journalist and broadcasting executive who became Director of Programmes at Channel 4 in January 2018.[2] Katz originally followed a career in print journalism, and was a deputy editor of The Guardian until 2013.[3] He then became the editor of the Newsnight current affairs programme on BBC Two,[4] a role which ended in late 2017.[5]

Early life[edit]

Born into a Jewish family, although his "identification" as a Jew is "flimsier than most",[6] he spent the first ten years of his life in South Africa. At that point, Katz and his family moved to London.[7]

Katz was educated at University College School, an independent school for boys in Hampstead in North West London, followed by New College, Oxford, where he studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics.[8]

Early career in journalism[edit]

After a brief period working on a newspaper in Costa Rica,[7] Katz joined the short-lived Sunday Correspondent as a graduate trainee in 1989 along with Jonathan Freedland,[9] a future colleague. During the following year Katz moved to The Guardian remaining there until his BBC appointment in 2013, apart taking up a Laurence Stern fellowship at The Washington Post in 1993.[10] During his period at The Guardian, he was successively a reporter, foreign correspondent (in New York 1994–97),[11] edited the G2 supplement for eight years[12] and was responsible for the Saturday[13] (2006–08)[11] and the weekday editions of the newspaper,[3]

Katz was responsible for the then new guardian.co.uk website in 1998.[11] As features editor in January 2003, he ran an image commissioned from artist Gillian Wearing for the G2 front cover which consisted of the words: "Fuck Cilla Black".[14][15] Intended to promote an article about the decline in the quality of British television, readers complained about the decline in the quality of newspaper journalism.[15] Black's agent, her son Robert Willis, described it as a "cheap publicity stunt", and Wearing apologised for the offence caused.[16]

In 2004, while editor of the G2 supplement, and having bought a list of voters, Katz oversaw the campaign for Guardian readers to pair with undecided voters in the marginal Clark County, Ohio to help swing the 2004 US presidential election against George W. Bush and in favour of John Kerry.[17] The campaign did not have a successful outcome; it was dropped after a negative response and Bush won Clark County.[18][19][20] In 2008, he became deputy editor,[21] at the same time as Paul Johnson[22] and Katharine Viner.[23]

Guardian deputy editor[edit]

As deputy editor, latterly overseeing News and Business coverage from Spring 2010,[24] Katz supervised The Guardian's investigation by Nick Davies, and others, into the News International phone hacking scandal.[25] Following the release in 2011 of the Palestine Papers by broadcaster Al Jazeera and The Guardian, Katz defended 'the newspaper against attacks from Ron Prosor, at the time the Israeli ambassador to the UK, who had seen it as demonstrating the newspaper's "affinity for Hamas".[26] This assertion Katz wrote was "based on a highly tendentious reading of a single op-ed column [by Seumas Milne] and a single line of one of two editorials which the paper ran on the Palestine Papers".[26]

Katz was also one of the newspaper's contacts with Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, whose material The Guardian initially published before the relationship between the two organisations turned sour.[27] According to an article in The Australian, David Aaronovitch of The Times at a panel discussion at the Frontline Club accused Katz of "dirty dealing", while Katz defended himself against an accusation of a "betrayal" of Assange levelled by Aaronovitch in the decision by The Guardian to publish documents relating to the Swedish sexual allegations involving Assange.[28]

Katz was on the final short list of two in 2015 to succeed Alan Rusbridger as editor-in-chief of The Guardian, but Katz's rival, Katharine Viner, was appointed instead.[29][30] In the film The Fifth Estate (2013), Katz was portrayed by actor Dan Stevens.[31]

Newsnight editor[edit]

Katz joined the BBC in July 2013,[3] and became editor of Newsnight at the beginning of September.[4] Katz was the permanent successor to Peter Rippon, as editor of the programme following serious errors in editorial practice in recent years.

Shortly after becoming editor, Katz sent an unintended tweet late on 9 September. Katz typed, in what he thought was a private direct message, that the Labour MP Rachel Reeves was "boring snoring" while being interviewed by Jeremy Paxman on the programme. Katz deleted his tweet and apologised[32] to both Reeves and the Labour Party.[33]

A year later, Katz returned to the issue of the political interview in an article for the Financial Times. His mistake, he thought, had been to refer to Reeves when all political interviews had the "boring snoring" quality he had attributed to her appearance on Newsnight.[34] He argued for a better understanding between the two sides in the "transaction", so that an interview is "a source of light as well as heat" becoming an opportunity to "explore and illuminate the dilemmas politicians face, to recognise that government is not a choice between good and bad policies but most often a search for the least worst option."[34]

On 31 October 2017, it was announced that Katz was leaving the BBC, and his role as Newsnight editor for Channel 4 where he became director of programmes in January 2018.[5][2]

Personal life[edit]

Katz is married to Justine Roberts, the chief executive of the Mumsnet website.[31]


  1. ^ a b "Katz, Ian Alexander". Who's Who. Retrieved 24 June 2018.
  2. ^ a b Brown, Maggie (January 2018). "The challenges facing Ian Katz at Channel 4". Television. Royal Television Society. Retrieved 24 June 2018.
  3. ^ a b c John Plunkett "BBC appoints Ian Katz and Jamie Angus as Newsnight and Today editors", guardian.co.uk, 16 May 2013.
  4. ^ a b Steve Hewlett "BBC Newsnight should brace for change as Ian Katz takes over", theguardian.com, 2 September 2013.
  5. ^ a b "Ian Katz: Newsnight editor to leave for Channel 4". BBC News. 31 October 2017. Retrieved 31 October 2017.
  6. ^ Ian Katz "Did we do this?", The Guardian, 24 May 2001.
  7. ^ a b Charlotte Edwardes "To Jeremy Paxman my ideas were ‘preposterous’, ‘infantile’ or ‘completely lamentable’: Ian Katz lifts the lid on Newsnight", London Evening Standard, 12 September 2014.
  8. ^ "Is PPE a passport to power – or the ultimate blagger's degree? | Education". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
  9. ^ Roy Greenslade Press Gang: How Newspapers Make Profits From Propaganda, London: Macmillan (Pan), 2004, p.487.
  10. ^ "Laurence Stern Fellowship at the Washington Post" Archived 7 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine, National Press Foundation
  11. ^ a b c "Student Media Conference 2009", guardian.co.uk
  12. ^ "Guardian deputy Ian Katz appointed BBC Newsnight editor", Radio Times, 16 May 2013.
  13. ^ Melanie Hall "Guardian deputy editor to head up BBC's Newsnight", telegraph.co.uk, 16 May 2013.
  14. ^ Ian Katz "Were we right to do this?", The Guardian, 8 January 2003.
  15. ^ a b Kim Fletcher "Gone to press", telegraph.co.uk, 10 January 2003.
  16. ^ "Artist sorry for Cilla insult", BBC News, 8 January 2003.
  17. ^ Ian Katz "The Last Post", The Guardian, 21 October 2004.
  18. ^ Andy Bowers "Dear Limey Assholes ...'/A crazy British plot to swing Ohio to Kerry—and how it backfired", Slate, 4 November 2004.
  19. ^ "Did Guardian turn Ohio to Bush?", BBC News, 4 November 2004.
  20. ^ Andy McSmith "Ian Katz and the great Clark County stunt" Archived 17 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine, The Independejnt (blog), 16 May 2013.
  21. ^ Dominic Ponsford "Ian Katz leaves Guardian to edit Newsnight and Jamie Angus is new Today editor", Press Gazette, 16 May 2013.
  22. ^ Responsible, according to Ponsford, for News, Business and Sport, he should not be confused with the former editor of the New Statesman.
  23. ^ Laura Oliver "Guardian News & Media names Paul Johnson as deputy editor", Journalism.co.uk, 6 August 2008.
  24. ^ Jason Deans "Guardian reorganises editorial executives", The Guardian, 26 March 2010.
  25. ^ Mallary Jean Tenore "Guardian deputy editor: ‘It got pretty lonely’ covering News International scandal", Poynter, 13 July 2011.
  26. ^ a b Ian Katz "Israeli Ambassador's Dishonest Attacks on the Guardian Miss the Point", The Huffington Post, 9 February 2011. It is clear from the links that the American form of rendering a date is being used here.
  27. ^ Ian Katz "Pioneering WikiLeaks collaboration ended in distrust and legal threats", The Guardian, 5 February 2011.
  28. ^ Peter Wilson "WikiLeaks locked in war of words", The Australian, 20 January 2011.
  29. ^ Adam Sherwin "Katharine Viner appointed editor-in-chief of the Guardian", The Independent, 20 March 2015.
  30. ^ Peter Preston "Enter Katharine Viner at the Guardian: new editor, old hand", The Observer, 22 March 2015.
  31. ^ a b "Newsnight post is cool for Ian Katz", Evening Standard, 16 May 2013.
  32. ^ James Legge "Newsnight guest Rachel Reeves was 'boring snoring', says show's editor Ian Katz on Twitter", The Independent, 10 September 2013.
  33. ^ "Newsnight's Ian Katz apologises to Labour over tweet", BBC News, 10 September 2013.
  34. ^ a b Ian Katz "The death of the political interview", Financial Times, 5 September 2014.

External links[edit]

Media offices
Preceded by
Peter Rippon
Editor: Newsnight
Succeeded by
Esmé Wren