My Any Other Business item this week on who’s in the frame to succeed Robert Peston as BBC business editor seems to have caused a bit of a stir. The strong rumour is that the appointment must go to a female candidate, and there’s clearly support for the delightful Laura Kuenssberg, who came to fame reporting the 2010 general election for the BBC but has been a lot less visible since she moved to ITV News as business editor in 2011. Does Pesto think she’s given him a run for his money these past couple of years? I suspect he’d say not, and if I were Laura’s career adviser I’d say play to your strength and get back to covering politics as soon as you can.
At to the internal candidates, chief economic correspondent Hugh Pym is an amiable Beeb veteran who suffers from the Ed Stourton problem of being a touch too posh: educated at Marlborough and Christ Church, Oxford, he also comes from a dynastic business background, his forebears having created the C&J Clark shoe empire. Chief business correspondent Linda Yueh — though Oxford is also on her CV, along with Harvard, Yale and New York University — carries none of the disadvantages of inverted British media prejudice, and the more I read on the BBC website of her coverage of the emerging China story, the more impressed I am: see, for example, China’s ambitious plans for its huge reserves. But is she too global to do vox pops with struggling small businessmen in Sunderland?
I haven’t seen former economics editor turned Today presenter Evan Davis (Ashcombe School, Dorking and St John’s, Oxford) tipped for the post yet, so you heard it here first. His work on Dragon’s Den and Radio 4’s The Bottom Line evinces a welcome enthusiasm for entrepreneurship that was lacking from Peston’s business coverage — and if Pesto can slip sideways from one chair to another, why can’t Davis ease himself off the early-morning Today shift and move the other way?
And let’s not omit a couple of runners from Channel 4 News. Business correspondent Siobhan Kennedy used to cover the mergers and private equity sector at The Times, and started her career with Reuters in London and New York. And economics editor Faisal Islam (Manchester Grammar and Trinity, Cambridge) used to a punchy commentator for the Observer.
Meanwhile, my Any Other Business tip that Reith Lecturer Grayson Perry could be the cross-dressed dark horse in this race doesn’t seem to have gained much traction. Perhaps his cheerful scepticism about market forces in the art world isn’t quite ideologically sound enough for the BBC’s thought controllers. What price Billy Bragg?
Martin Vander Weyer is The Spectator’s Business editor. Read his Any Other Business column from this week’s magazine here.
UPDATE: My man in the BBC wellbeing facilitation pod just texted:
Tags: BBC, Evan Davis, Faisal Islam, Grayson Perry, Hugh Pym, Laura Kuenssberg, Linda Yueh, Siobhan Kennedy
‘The current trend in News is to pick people from the print world, so keep your eye on award-winning Gillian Tett from the FT‘