MUMBAI: BBC World News today announced two major changes. While Yalda Hakim joins as the new face of its news programme Impact, BBC World News lead anchor Jon Sopel will be moving stateside as he becomes BBC North America editor.
Hakim had joined the international news channel in January 2013 as the lead reporter on the Our World current affairs strand. Her reports from conflict zones such as Yemen, Iraq and Afghanistan have earned headlines around the world.
She is known to have gained unprecedented access to Afghanistan's Bagram jail just before 65 detainees controversially walked free and last October landed a scoop interview with President Hamid Karzai. She has interviewed survivors of the garment factory collapse in Bangladesh and investigated people-trafficking and torture in Yemen as well as America’s use of drones in the region.
Born in Afghanistan, Hakim is an Australian. Among the many languages, she speaks Dari, Hindi and is learning Mandarin. And while looking forward to her new role, she is also keen to retain her ‘boots on the ground’ reputation. Hakim said, “I really believe the best way to tell a story is by being there and hearing from people first hand. I love being out in the field and I want to bring the Impact viewers with me. It’s a chance to show them more of the tales from behind the headlines. Plus I get to work with an absolutely fantastic team and help reinforce BBC World News’ position as the leader in global breaking news.”
She added, “The timing of the show means we’ll be connecting with Asia and I am very excited to be given this opportunity to create an identity for Impact which excites this switched-on and news hungry audience. My background and experience mean I have a huge passion for stories coming out of this region and I am really looking forward to sharing this with our viewers around the globe.”
Praising Hakim’s reporting, BBC World News head of news James Stephenson said, “I am delighted that Yalda has agreed to become the main presenter of Impact. She has made an enormous contribution to the channel since she joined last year with her investigative reporting from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and elsewhere. She will continue to combine that work in the field with her new role.”
Meanwhile, BBC World News lead anchor Jon Sopel will be moving stateside as he becomes the BBC’s North American editor. While he will be stepping down as presenter of Global, viewers will still be able to see Sopel when he reports on America’s big stories for both the BBC domestic and international output.
Thanking Sopel for his contribution to the channel Stephenson acknowledged the importance of the US market to BBC World News.
He said, “Jon is an outstanding presenter and has played a major role in raising the profile of World News with his sharp journalism, tireless pursuit of big news-making interviews and evident sense of humour. He will be a big loss to Global, which he has presented since its launch. However, I am pleased that with World News now expanding rapidly in the US, Jon will continue to play an important part in the future success of the channel in a vitally important part of the world.”
While looking forward to his new role Sopel said he was sad indeed to leave Global. He commented, “It is a huge honour to take on the role of North America editor. What is decided in Washington affects the whole world, and it will be a great challenge to report on the workings of the White House and Congress – and of course following the next presidential election. But it’s about bringing the whole of the US alive to our audience and I will relish travelling widely in this fascinating, complex and beautiful country. This was the only opportunity that could have pulled me away from presenting on BBC World News, of which I have nothing but fond memories.”
World Service Group English controller Richard Porter said, “I’d like to thank Jon for playing such an important part in the re-launch of BBC World News from our new studios, and I’m delighted that he will continue his association with us in his new role in Washington. He and Yalda have been at the forefront of the changes which have been welcomed by viewers around the world. Yalda will be taking on a more prominent role as the main anchor of Impact, but she will still find time to continue her outstanding work as a film-maker and investigative journalist.”