Who is the BBC’s new political editor?
Any Questions? host Chris Mason appointed as successor to Laura Kuenssberg
The BBC has appointed Chris Mason as its new political editor following a drawn-out recruitment process in which a women-only shortlist was scrapped by executives.
Mason, who currently hosts BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions?, has been at the BBC for two decades and previously worked on the BBC’s regional desk at Westminster and as a political reporter for BBC Radio 5 Live.
He replaces Laura Kuenssberg, who stepped down earlier this year and who will take over in Andrew Marr’s Sunday morning slot in September.
“What a tremendous privilege to take on what, for me, is the most extraordinary job in British broadcasting and journalism,” Mason said. “I clamber upon the shoulders of giants like Laura, Nick Robinson and Andrew Marr with a smattering of trepidation and a shedload of excitement and enthusiasm.
“To lead the best team of journalists in the business on the best news patch of the lot is something I'd never even dared dream of. I can't wait to get started.”
Mason will take up the role in May, following the local elections, and will continue to host Any Questions? until the summer.
Jonathan Munro, interim director of BBC News, said Mason “has been an exceptional correspondent in an extraordinary time for British politics”, adding: “His calm, incisive analysis and signature candid style have been invaluable for audiences when navigating complex stories.”
Kuenssberg tweeted: “Huge congrats and welcome to the best daily job in the business.”
Mason first emerged as the favourite for the influential job in early April. The 41-year-old is “widely liked across the BBC”, The Guardian said at the time, but did not originally apply as it was seen as a role for a more experienced journalist.
People with knowledge of the recruitment process told The Sunday Times that BBC bosses had encouraged him to apply after the “protracted” appointments process “descended into farce”.
Munro and Katy Searle, its executive editor for politics, had “emphasised during interviews that they wanted a journalist who will produce exclusives”, the paper added. But “Mason is not known for big scoops”.
“They said they wanted someone who breaks stories but I think they’ve realised they actually need a wise statesman who is good at analysing events, and Chris will do brilliantly at that,” a senior political journalist told the paper. “This feels like a moment of self-realisation for the BBC, that they can’t be that bold.”
The news of his appointment also comes just weeks after the BBC reportedly drew up an all-female shortlist for the six-figure salary role, with two journalists from Sky News and ITV thought to be the front runners for the top job.
According to The Times, executives at the broadcaster conducted second-round interviews on 18 March with the aim of announcing a replacement for Kuenssberg at the same time she announced her move to what was Andrew Marr’s Sunday morning show.
Multiple sources told the paper’s media correspondent Jake Kanter that Sophy Ridge, who presents Sky News’s flagship Sunday morning politics show, and Anushka Asthana, ITV News’s deputy political editor, were the two favourites for the influential role.