THE GUEST speaker at next week’s Coventry Conversations is the former editor of Newsnight, the popular week nightly BBC Two news, politics and current affairs programme.
Peter Barron has followed the many thousands of former journalists across the divide and into the world of Public Relations. Having left one of the most high profile jobs in British television journalism, he now works for internet search engine giant, Google.
He is currently their Head of Public Relations for the UK, Ireland and Benelux countries which means that rather than reporting the news, he now manipulates it instead.
Barron was recently asked by a journalist from the Independent how he felt he influenced the media, to which Barron replied: “The most enjoyable way is to break stories that everyone else is obliged to report.”
The 46-year-old father of three who lives in London joined Newsnight in 2004, but left only three years later to undertake what is quite possibly one of the most influential PR jobs in the UK.
His working life in the media commenced with Newsnight shortly after becoming a BBC trainee where he spent eight years as producer, film-maker and programme editor. He worked as Peter Snow’s producer on budget, election and Gulf War packages.
Of all the people he has worked alongside throughout his working life, Barron has admitted to admiring Snow with greatest affection because of his “boundless enthusiasm and willingness to pass on knowledge”.
Previous employers include Channel 4 News (1998 – 2001) where he worked as the station’s deputy editor and handled coverage concerning the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York City. In 2002, he joined ITV’s ‘Tonight with Trevor McDonald’ where again he worked as the programme’s deputy editor.
A year later in 2003 and Barron returned to the BBC where he became the corporation’s editor of current affairs before becoming Newsnight’s editor twelve months later in 2004. During his time there, he introduced vodcasts and blogs to the then perceived conservative and outmoded show.
The Belfast-born man has won a number of accolades, both on an individual and collective basis. In 2005, Newsnight was awarded the Media Tenor Global TV Award. A decade earlier, Barron was awarded the Royal Television Society award for Newsnight’s coverage of the arms-to-Iraq scandal.
John Mair, the inventor and organiser of the media lecture series, said: “Getting Peter Barron to come to Coventry is a dream. He is one of my heroes having taken Newsnight to previously untouched journalistic heights.
“Peter is always interesting and promises to bring his crystal ball and some other gizmos to give us a taste of the digital future according to Google. It will be nothing but fascinating,” he added.
Peter Baron will be in conversation at 1pm on Thursday February 12th in Ellen Terry, ETG 34.