Telegraph to appoint Olympics editor

The Telegraph is looking to appoint a senior figure to oversee the newspaper’s coverage of the 2012 London Games, with one of the BBC’s leading experts on Olympic sport a leading candidate.

According to a report today by Media Guardian, SJA member Adrian Warner, the Olympics correspondent at BBC London since 2007, has been approached about the job, which would seek to knit together the disparate elements of political, sporting and news coverage that goes with the staging of what is known as the “biggest show on Earth”.

The outline of the job mirrors the sort of appointments made at Australian newspapers, especially the Sydney Morning Herald, ahead of the Sydney Games in 2000, when they gave the Olympics blanket coverage.

The Telegraph already has senior sports writers on the Olympic beat, with the likes of Paul Kelso, Simon Hart and Ian Chadband. But the Olympics editor role, according to the Guardian report, would have a more strategic brief. The Telegraph‘s campaign to back London’s bid in 2004 and 2005 saw the paper and its staff win several awards at the time.

Reporting the preparations for the 2012 Games have been ramping up slowly across a range of UK media since London won the bid in 2005. But coverage is expected to begin in earnest next year, once the Vancouver Winter Games and 2010 football World Cup are over.

The website report says that Olympics coverage will shortly move out of the Telegraph‘s sports section and become a story in all sections of the papers.

The Guardian quoted a source as saying, “It’s a very senior job they are making in terms of someone who would be in the paper and website and talking about the Olympics and being a commentator. It is also about someone within the management who would have close contact with senior executives and who would be a strategist.”

The Guardian says that the publisher of the Daily and Sunday Telegraph has approached a number of candidates, including Warner, but an appointment is still some way off.

Warner is also in the running for the BBC’s sports editors job, to succeed Mihir Bose, who left the corporation in the summer. Warner has reported every Olympic Games since Seoul in 1988 and had covered the beat for the Evening Standard, developing strong contacts at City Hall as well as at LOCOG and Lausanne, after many years reporting sports politics for Reuters.

The BBC advertised the vacancy in September, stressing that a pre-requisite of the appointment would be that the sports editor would be based in Salford from 2011.

That relocation requirement has caused some ridicule for the BBC, which is moving its entire sports department – with the exception of certain “key” executives – to Manchester barely a year before the Olympic flame is lit in Stratford. That factor, and a salary believed to be less than many newspapers’ star sports columnists already receive, is thought to have deterred some from applying, although reports suggest that the BBC has received 60 applications, half of them from newspaper reporters.

The BBC is thought to be in the midst of its interview process now. Other contenders include existing BBC News staff James Munro and James Pearce, while Dan Roan, Sky Sports News’s chief reporter until he moved to Setanta, is also in the running.

As well as Bose, the BBC’s news department lost news reporter Adam Parsons in the past 12 months, to become media director at the British Olympic Association.

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