Fergal Keane is stepping back as the BBC’s Africa editor after revealing he is suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Keane was said to have been “dealing privately with the effects of PTSD” for several years in a message informing BBC staff of his decision today.
His diagnosis is the result of “several decades of work in conflict zones around the world”, BBC head of newsgathering Jonathan Munro told staff.
Keane joined the BBC in 1989 as Northern Ireland correspondent but quickly moved to cover Southern Africa, reporting on the end of apartheid and the Rwandan genocide in the early 1990s.
Munro said Keane had been supported by friends and colleagues and had received professional medical advice, but “now feels he needs to change his role in order to further assist his recovery”
“It’s both brave and welcome that he is ready to be open about PTSD,” he said.
The BBC said it is now discussing a new role for Keane so he can “continue to provide original and compelling journalism” for the broadcaster.
Keane won an Amnesty International Press Award in 1993 and was awarded an OBE for services to journalism in 1996.
The BBC’s Middle East correspondent Jeremy Bowen has also previously spoken about suffering with PTSD following the death of his driver under mortar fire in 2000 as they covered Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon.
The note to BBC staff in full:
I am writing to let you all know that Fergal Keane has decided to step back from his role as our BBC News Africa Editor. He has brought huge insight, experience and thoughtfulness to the role, covering a wide range of different stories across the continent.
The reasons behind his decision are personal. For several years, Fergal has been dealing privately with the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), stemming from several decades of work in conflict zones around the world. He has been supported throughout this time by friends and colleagues in News, as well as receiving professional medical advice.
However, he now feels he needs to change his role in order to further assist his recovery. It’s both brave and welcome that he is ready to be open about PTSD.
We are now discussing a new role for Fergal that will enable him to continue to provide original and compelling journalism, on different platforms across News and Current Affairs and more widely across the BBC.
Many of you reading this note will have taken great inspiration from his work over the years, so I’m particularly pleased that Fergal is committed to continue to guide and nurture emerging talent in the UK and around the world.
I know you will want to join me in thanking Fergal for all his work as Africa Editor and wish him well in the next chapter of his career here at the BBC.
Head of Newsgathering