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January 30, 2020updated 30 Sep 2022 8:52am

Today editor Sarah Sands resigns after BBC News announces major cuts

By Freddy Mayhew

Today editor Sarah Sands will leave the flagship BBC Radio 4 news programme later this year, she has announced.

Sands took a pay cut to join the programme in 2017 from her role as editor of the Evening Standard newspaper. 

The news comes a day after BBC News staff were told the department will lose up to 450 jobs in a major restructure to “modernise” the newsroom.

Sands must serve six months’ notice and will not leave until September.

She tweeted today: “I have decided to move on from being editor of the Today programme and propose to leave the BBC in September.

“It has been a privilege to be part of this remarkable team and I am proud to have championed our intelligent journalism and political independence. God bless the BBC.”

The BBC said in a statement that Sands had “brought new ideas and fresh thinking” to Today over her three years as editor.

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“Under her editorship she has broadened the programme’s agenda, putting a renewed focus on science and arts, and left the nation scratching their heads with Puzzle for Today.

“She has commissioned a series of formidable guest editors from Greta Thunberg to the Duke of Sussex. We thank her for all her hard work and wish her well for the future after she leaves the programme this summer.”

Sands earns up to £155,000 a year as Today editor.

Mohit Bakaya, controller of Radio 4, said: “Sarah has held the reins at Today during a time of extraordinary politics, as well as intense scrutiny and challenge.

“She has done so with great poise and dedication, seeking to broaden the programme’s remit along the way.”

Today presenter John Humphrys left the programme in September after 32 years and 5,000 shows.

Sands was forced to reject claims that Today was in crisis in 2018 after audience figures revealed it had lost 800,000 listeners in a year, down from a record 7.82m in April to June 2017.

Today has a weekly reach of 6.72m listeners, according to the latest RAJAR figures covering June to September last year, down from 6.98m on the same period the year before.

Sands became the first female editor of The Sunday Telegraph in 2005 and went on to become editor of Reader’s Digest before joining the Standard as deputy editor in 2009. She edited the daily freesheet from 2012 to 2017.

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