Clissitt gets ‘the vision thing’ in Telegraph changes

Ben Clissitt: new role at the Telegraph
Ben Clissitt: new role at the Telegraph

Ben Clissitt, the head of sport for the past four years, is to be the Telegraph group’s first “director of visual journalism”, one among a wide-ranging series of senior staff changes announced yesterday by Jason Seiken, the American recently appointed as Telegraph editor-in-chief.

The changes are part of an “on-going transformation” of the newspaper group, the publishers of the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph, into a multi-media news operation.

Adam Sills, Clissitt’s deputy on the sports desk, is expected to be named as the new head of sport on a permanent basis.

In a letter to Telegraph staff announcing the changes, Seiken wrote about Clissitt’s new role, “Video has become a major opportunity across multiple fronts – audience acquisition, engagement, storytelling and monetisation. The video department and picture desks will report to Ben.”

Clissitt joined the Telegraph as head of sport in 2010, having previously worked at The Guardian. Clissitt had become sports editor of The Guardian in April 2000, having previously run the City office and worked on the G2 supplement. Before joining The Guardian in 1996, he worked for the Independent on Sunday.

Clissitt has been active as a committee member of the SJA since 2010, but has decided to stand down from his role with the Association as he takes on his new business responsibilities, which have seen him travelling the globe in recent months observing the use of video content by television and web operations. Clissitt’s position on the SJA committee will not be filled immediately, with elections due to be held an the annual meeting on April 10.

“Ben’s presence as part of the SJA committee has been quietly influential,” Steven Downes, the Association secretary, said today. “Together with the other heads of sport and sports editors on our committee, Ben has helped the Association with the staging of our Question Time events and provided essential advice and guidance as we have developed our awards events.

“Everyone on the committee and in the Association wishes him well in his new role with huge thanks for his efforts on behalf of the SJA.”

Seiken’s Telegraph Group reshuffle comes five months after his arrival and a month after Tony Gallagher was sacked as editor of the Daily Telegraph.

Gallagher’s replacements have been confirmed as Chris Evans as print editor (Monday-Friday) and Ian MacGregor for Saturday and Sunday.

“As I have consistently emphasised, we cannot be great digitally if we are not great in print,” Seiken said. “Across their many combined years of service at The Telegraph, both Chris and Ian have demonstrated their ability to consistently produce quality newspapers. In addition, both will play a critical role in the digital transformation.”

Among other changes, Clissitt’s predecessor as head of sport, Mark Skipworth, is promoted from executive editor to become one of three deputy editors.

“With these latest appointments and promotions, I am confident that we have the core team in place to set TMG’s course for an innovative and prosperous future,” Seiken said.

The Telegraph has a history of which to be proud – a great name for quality, first-rate reporting, informative comment and award-winning journalism… On a more personal note, I know that this has not been an easy transition at TMG. There have been surprises and changes. Even though we write every day about a fast-changing world, change is always unsettling. On the other hand, change can unleash our best and most creative sides. It usually has for me; I moved my family 3,671 miles to unleash mine again.”


Mon Mar 24: SJA British Sports Journalism Awards, Grand Connaught Rooms, London
Mon Apr 14: SJA Spring Golf Day: Croham Hurst GC, Surrey. Booking details to be announced