James Harding (OH - 82) - Curiosity
The final sixth form society talk in the Summer of 1982 was by a BBC journalist Wynford Vaughan Thomas who spoke on ‘Being a correspondent’. Some of what he said must have stayed with the boys for James Harding is part of a very distinguished cohort at the Hall which includes Giles Coren and Mark Durden-Smith.
The staff remember James for his strength at public speaking – he passed his Grade VIII in Effective Speaking in the final term - and for his love of learning. It was no surprise that after St Paul‘s School, he went on to Trinity College, Cambridge where he gained a first in History.
Before becoming a journalist, he studied Japanese at the School of Oriental and African Studies and actually worked as a speechwriter to the Chief Secretary to the Cabinet of Japan.
He started his career in the media at the Financial Times in 1994 and, among other things, served as the Shanghai Correspondent, establishing the paper's Shanghai bureau and covering the emergence of the Chinese financial markets. He was also the Media editor and spent three years in Washington as the paper’s bureau chief.
In 2006 he returned to London and joined The Times as the Business Editor and was promoted to editor in December 2007. He was the youngest person to ever hold the position and under his tenure, the Times was awarded the Newspaper of the Year Award. As editor, Harding was inevitably very involved with the 2012 Leveson enquiry into the general culture and ethics of the British media.
Following that enquiry he took the role of negotiating a new supervisory model for press regulation with Oliver Letwin (a fellow Old Hallfordian and Distinctive Life), who was Minister of State at the Cabinet Office as the time.
In April 2013 Harding was appointed as the head of BBC News. These days, he oversees all the News and Current Affairs programming and is in charge of the largest broadcast news operation in the world with a current worldwide audience or about 250 million. His aim is to double the audience by 2022.
We were delighted that James took the time out of a very busy schedule to return to The Hall in 2017 to speak to our Sixth Form Society about his career.