Briefing Notes: Channel 4 News

Katie Tiffin
Katie Tiffin 27th May 2022

Speaker: Esme Wren, Editor, Channel 4 News

Key contacts Head of Foreign News Deputy Head of Foreign News Managing editor, in charge of Unreported World Series producer, Unreported World Indie fund and women’s rights Head of Output/guest editor Head of Digital


Reporters/presenters Fourcast/podcast host Chief correspondent/climate change coverage Presenter and host/reporter Unreported World Presenter and Europe editor International editor Freelance/Latin America correspondent based in Latin America Freelance/Africa correspondent based in the UK Freelance/Asia correspondent based in Bangkok Reporter Reporter and presenter Reporter and presenter Reporter


Esme joined Channel 4 News in January after a three year stint as Editor of Newsnight and before that she had senior roles at Sky News. The programme’s international coverage was one of the attractions for her. At Newsnight, she relied on BBC correspondents. At Channel 4, she has her own dedicated team of reporters.

She faced an early challenge – covering the war in Ukraine. That has taken up a lot of the budget for foreign news and not left much for other stories. However, she emphasised how importance foreign coverage was and encouraged us to work with her and her colleagues on getting stories on air.

She advised us to pitch to the Foreign Desk (for example regarding the upcoming CHOGM in Rwanda) and to specialists on specific topics (Alex Thomson on climate change and Louise Turner on women’s rights). There is a climate change strand called Emergency on Planet Earth. There’s also a divided America strand. We can also try to build relationships with individual reporters who can pitch stories to her. She wants to broaden the range of guest and advised us to pitch names of experts to Ollie King. She may appoint a guest editor in the future. Guests do not need access to a studio – they can be interviewed via Zoom.

Esme was asked about the famine in east Africa and said that this was very much on her horizon. Jamal would be the person to contact. He is a freelance but works mainly with C4News. Likewise, with Guillermo in Latin America and Jonathan in Asia.

Esme spoke about audiences. Around 1m people are currently watching the 7pm news live or on catch up. These are mainly in their 30s and 40s but there has been a growth in numbers of younger viewers (16-25) during the Ukraine crisis. Their reach is much bigger on digital especially amongst young audiences.

Channel 4 News is not yet digital first but that is the direction of travel. The digital team is repurposing content from the main news bulletins and also creating new content. They are on Facebook, TikTok and Snapchat. The Facebook Uncovered strand will be back soon.

Unreported News is now made by the Channel 4 News Team (it was previously made by Quickslilver). This means that Channel 4 reporters will often present the show – for example Fatima was in Pakistan looking at women’s rights and Guillermo was looking at drug gangs in El Salvador. Unreported World is a good strand to target when pitching ideas as it reports on stories that do not normally make the main news bulletins. Pitches can go to Andy Lee.

Esme said that the USP of Channel 4 News was the depth of its coverage and this was where she wanted to focus her energy. Viewers wanted a better understanding of stories in the news, more context, more data – and IBT members could help with this.


MG, 26.5.22

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