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John Witherow to deliver Society’s Satchwell lecture

Posted on: May 2, 2019 by Mariella Brown

*** Please note, this event is currently sold out. For further queries or to be added to the waiting list, contact Mariella at mariella.brown@societyofeditors.org or call 01223 30 40 80 .***

Event information

Editor of The Times, John Witherow will deliver the annual Society of Editors Satchwell Lecture in London in June.

Witherow is a major media figure with a distinguished career in journalism. He has edited The Times since 2013, and this year saw the paper pick up the prestigious Daily Newspaper of the Year title at the National Press Awards.

The Satchwell Lecture takes place at Stationers’ Hall on Monday, June 10, is free to attend and includes a glass of wine. Venue information may be found on Eventbrite.

The event will start at 7pm with a reception, followed at 7.30pm by the lecture and a question and answers session with time for networking to follow. The evening will end at 9pm.

The Satchwell Lecture is named for former Society of Editors Executive Director Bob Satchwell who stepped down from his role in March 2017 due to a life-changing illness. Last year’s inaugural lecture was delivered by BBC Director General Lord Tony Hall.

Although there is no charge for the event, donations towards the Journalists’ Charity will be encouraged.


John Witherow

Editor of The Times of London

John Witherow is the longest-serving national newspaper editor in Britain.

He joined The Times in 1980 and was appointed editor of The Sunday Times in 1995 and editor of The Times in 2013.

John started his career in South West Africa (now Namibia) in 1970 with the aim of teaching in Ovamboland on the Angolan border. He was refused a permit to go there by the South African government, which governed South West Africa at the time. Instead he set up a library for Africans in Windhoek, the capital. While there, he was a BBC stringer for the Africa service.

John joined Reuters news agency in 1977 and worked in Madrid for a year before joining the Times as a reporter. In his first week he covered the Iranian embassy siege and later the Iran-Iraq war.

In 1982, John was sent on the aircraft carrier HMS Invincible to cover the Falklands war. After reporting on the air war and surviving Exocet attacks that destroyed HMS Sheffield, he was put ashore with 5 Infantry Brigade. He came under bomb attack while on an ammunition ship and was close by when Argentine aircraft struck RFA Galahad, killing 48 servicemen, the biggest single loss of British life during the war.

After the fall of Port Stanley in June, he returned to the UK on a Hercules plane with the SAS. He wrote a book, The Winter War, The Falklands, with Patrick Bishop. In the same year, John spent six months in Boston and Washington for the Boston Globe.

He moved to The Sunday Times in 1983.There he served in several positions, including defence correspondent, diplomatic correspondent, foreign editor and head of news. John was made editor after the departure of Andrew Neil in 1995.

Under his editorship, the paper broke a series of powerful news stories, including cash for questions, cash for honours and the abuse of the expenses system in the upper house. Several peers were fined, suspended and one was jailed as a result. These stories helped reform the Houses of Parliament.

He was editor when the paper alleged that US cyclist Lance Armstrong was a drugs cheat.  Armstrong sued and the paper had to settle. Only later did US authorities prove he was using performance-enhancing drugs and he was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles. The paper recovered its damages and costs from Armstrong. The episode was made into a film called The Program (2015). John also presided over the start of the Insight investigation into corruption at FIFA, which ultimately led to the suspension of Sepp Blatter in 2015.

In 2013 he was made editor of The Times. The paper became profitable for the first time and has won numerous newspaper awards. It also became Britain’s biggest selling quality national daily under his editorship.

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