Ryley leaving Sky News
December 5, 2022
John Ryley has announced he is stepping down as head of Sky News after 17 years. Ryley, who has been with Sky for 28 years, began his career as a BBC graduate news trainee and went on to programme edit ITV’s News at Ten before joining Sky in 1995 as an output editor. He was appointed executive editor in 2000 and head of news six years later.
In a letter addressed to colleagues, Ryley said:
“Being the Head of Sky News is one of the most exhilarating jobs in journalism. Nonetheless, after almost 40 years in the news business, 28 of which have been at Sky including 17 lucky years at the helm – I have decided, as of next year, to stop and leave Sky News behind.
I will treasure the time at Sky and cherish the firm friendships forged here.
It has been my great good fortune to have done the job for so long. But I can’t pretend there haven’t been tricksy days. Leadership of a non-stop news organisation is relentless, in both an enjoyable and, on occasions, an unenviable sense. It makes extraordinary demands not just on the individual in the role, but on family and friends. I absolutely could not have succeeded over the last 17 years without the unwavering support of those closest to me. They have put up with the daily demands of unruly news without complaint.
I will always be grateful to Sky for its understanding and sensitivity following the swift, far too early death of my wife, Harriet. She was the lynchpin of my career in news and the North Star around which our family orbited for 33 years. As life has moved on, I now have three grown – up children, who each live in three different parts of the U.K all at a distance from home in southern England. I’m excited about having more time to see them. At the time of writing, quite how excited they are about this development remains unclear.
Back in 2021 I informed Sky I wanted to continue as the Head of News for no more than two more years, reckoning the spring of 2023, a little more than three years after Harriet’s death, would be a fitting moment to stop daily journalism and start projects incompatible with leading a news organisation.
My profound thanks to all present and past colleagues for your exceptional good work, enterprise, innovation, creativity, and success.
Thanks especially to Andrea, Cristina, Jonathan, Louise, Priya, Sara, Stephen; Dawn Airey, Chris Birkett, Simon Buglione, Simon Cole, Ian Cook, Gary Davey, Jackie Faulkner, Nick Herm, Sophie Turner Laing, Oliver Lewis, John McAndrew, Graham McWilliam, Mike Nolan who lured me from ITV News, Jim Rudder and Vic Wakeling.
Thanks to you all, Sky News is a successful, multi – platform news organisation with a strong bond of trust with our viewers, listeners, and above all, digital consumers. Sky News understands our audiences want journalists not only to report the news but to explain it too, a responsibility you take seriously every day. You have achieved so much since I took over the reins in 2006 and I have found your commitment truly inspiring.
We should all be proud this year Ofcom found Sky News to be the most trusted news broadcaster in the U.K. Trust and truth are the foundations on which a successful news organisation is built. We should also be proud Sky News is one of the world’s fastest growing news publisher on Tik Tok; proud, too, that we have demonstrated time and time again that public service journalism cannot be left solely to the public service news organisations.
I have been fortunate to have the support, encouragement, and occasional forbearance of three CEOs – James Murdoch, Jeremy Darroch, and Dana Strong – all of whom have bought wholly into the vision of building not only a TV channel but a multi – platform news organisation.
I have been lucky that throughout my time in charge at Sky News, history has been made on multiple occasions. It has been an ongoing saga of events and characters, of historic tipping points which may retrospectively be interpreted as defining the end of the post war consensus. These include the 2008 Financial Crash, the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the campaign for the first Leaders’ debate, a summer of UK riots, the Arab Spring, the rise of Isis, the Charlie Hebdo and Bataclan attacks, the European migrant crisis, four UK General Elections in nine years, one hung parliament, two referendums, Brexit, the election of Donald Trump, a Covid pandemic, the murder of George Floyd, the Taliban’s capture of Kabul, Russia’s invasion of a sovereign state, the death of Queen Elizabeth and now a biting economic crisis and political mess with three Prime Ministers in seven months – all this as the planet’s climate changes and AI develops. The experience has been thrilling, humbling and on occasions, lonely.
In the coming weeks, a new Head of Sky News will be appointed who will go on to shape the future history of the organisation. I hope my successor believes in the value of eye-witness journalism putting our camera operators and journalists at the heart of the news and remembers Sky News – at its best – is a challenger brand, and that it’s not the cleverest or biggest news organisation that succeeds but the one most adaptable to change.
Sky News will change once again with a new leader as it did back in 2006 when I took over from the formidable Nick Pollard. Renewal is vital for longevity. A new leader, coupled with your talents, will make change a force for good.
Thank you all from my head and heart for making Sky News journalism so successful, authoritative, and trusted.