Former BBC News Online editor to lead journalism

  • Date

    Tue 29 May 18

Tim Fenton

A former Managing Editor of BBC News Online has been appointed Director of Journalism at Essex.

Tim Fenton has more than 30 years’ industry experience including several senior roles with the BBC. He joined our Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies in 2016 as a lecturer in journalism and will lead the subject from September 2018.

We launched our first journalism course, BA Multimedia Journalism, in 2015. The first students will graduate this year and the subject has grown significantly, with our 2018 intake expected to be more than four times the size of that initial group. The course was set up by founding Professor Jonathan Baker. 

Tim said: “I want to develop students who can tell important, honest stories about the world in a compelling way.

“Jonathan has laid some fabulous foundations. The course is still developing but going in absolutely the right direction. Journalism has been through a very big change with the impact of digital technology. Jonathan and I witnessed that close-hand and that has helped us create a course fit for journalism as it is now.”

Tim teaches several undergraduate modules and brings a wealth of professional experience to the role. 

He was a BBC Political Correspondent, later moving to BBC News Online, where he became Managing Editor, recruiting more than a hundred journalists during the expansion of online news. He has also worked for several commercial news providers, including a spell as general manager of the travel news website 

Tim has a particular interest in politics, continuing to work for the BBC on election reporting. He also works on behalf of organisations including the United Nations and UK Foreign Office to improve the standard of parliamentary reporting in developing democracies around the world.

“I want to develop students who can tell important, honest stories about the world in a compelling way.”
Tim Fenton Director of Journalism (from September 2018)

It was Tim’s time spent building a new online editorial team that inspired him to enter teaching. 

“I saw a lot of people coming into the profession and developed some fairly firm ideas about the sort of skills they would need to prosper,” he explained. 

“Ten years ago, journalism teaching was still locked into separate silos – print, television, and so on. Some still is. But the important thing is finding and telling the story. Nowadays the platform comes second.”

Tim first taught journalism at New York University.

Dr Elizabeth Kuti, Head of our Department of Literature, Film and Theatre Studies, said: “We’re thrilled that Tim is moving into this position, and will be at the helm taking journalism at Essex into the next stage of its development. 

“Tim’s got such a wealth of professional experience as a practising journalist himself, but he is also a really great communicator with students, and someone with a passion for education.  He is really interested in journalism not only as a great career path, but also as a University discipline – a way of learning and thinking about the world, and how we interpret it. It’s a very exciting development.”