Sarah Sands resigns as editor of BBC’s Today programme

Sarah Sands is to stand down as editor of the BBC‘s Today programme after three years.

Her resignation from the flagship Radio 4 current affairs show comes a day after the corporation announced 450 jobs would be cut across its newsrooms as part of an £80m cost-saving drive.

Ms Sands said: “I have decided to move on from being editor of the Today programme and propose to leave the BBC in September.

“It has been a privilege to be part of this remarkable team and I am proud to have championed our intelligent journalism and political independence. God bless the BBC.”

She gave no reason for her decision, which comes just four months after John Humphrys left the programme following 32 years as presenter.

Ms Sands was appointed editor in January 2017, succeeding Jamie Angus, and was the second woman to hold what is seen as one of the top jobs in British news broadcasting.

She previously edited the London Evening Standard and The Sunday Telegraph.

Today emerged relatively unscathed from the cuts announced by the BBC on Wednesday, when the broadcaster confirmed plans to reducing staffing at Newsnight and Radio 5 Live and take Victoria Derbyshire’s award-winning BBC2 programme off air.

But the corporation’s plans to centralise its news operations to reduce duplication of stories mean editors of programmes such as Today could lose some of their authority.​

Radio 4 controller Mohit Bakaya said: “Sarah has held the reins at Today during a time of extraordinary politics, as well as intense scrutiny and challenge.

“She has done so with great poise and dedication, seeking to broaden the programme’s remit along the way, and I wish her luck for what she does next.”

The BBC’s director of news, Fran Unsworth, said Ms Sands had “brought new ideas and fresh thinking to the Today programme over the past three years”.

She added: “Under her editorship she has broadened the programme’s agenda, putting a renewed focus on science and arts, and left the nation scratching their heads with the Puzzle for Today.

“She has commissioned a series of formidable guest editors from Greta Thunberg to the Duke of Sussex. We thank her for all her hard work and wish her well for the future after she leaves the programme this summer.”

Today attracts about seven million daily listeners and is known for its agenda-setting and at times confrontational political interviews.

But in recent months it has failed to convince the likes of Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn to come on air, and outgoing BBC director-general Lord Tony Hall this week said journalism should move away from interviews which sought to “catch out” politicians.

Last week former Today presenter Sarah Montague won a £400,000 settlement and apology from the BBC after it emerged she had been paid unequally for “many years”.


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