Daily Telegraph's religion editor leaves the paper

By staff writers
20 Jun 2010

The Telegraph newspaper's religion editor, George Pitcher, has left the paper after just over two years in the post. He was hired by the former editor-in-chief, Will Lewis, in May 2008.

Pitcher combined his role on the right-of-centre paper with his job as a priest in the Church of England. He has strong and regular connections with St Bride's Fleet Street, known as "the journalists' church".

Some hard-line conservative Anglicans and Catholics apparently regarded Pitcher as 'too liberal', including some commentator-bloggers on the Telegraph, who sometimes express their views in what have been described as as "aggressive terms" - in contrast to the religion editor's more genial approach.

Pitcher also attracted sniping from the small but media-savvy National Secular Society, who belittlingly dubbed him "George of the Sixth Form".

He began his career as a reporter with wide interests, including a period as industrial editor of the Observer in the early 1990s.

Pitcher went on to set up City of London-based PR firm Luther Pendragon.

Will Lewis, who appointed him, stood down as editor of the Daily Telegraph at the end of 2009 and resigned from a digital project for the paper's parent company after a reported difference of opinion with the chief executive, Murdoch MacLennan.

The initiative on religion and belief reporting among the 'serious' nationwide daily newspapers in Britain has been grabbed in recent years by the Guardian, with its 'Belief' online section within Comment-is-Free, and the Times, whose religion editor Ruth Gledhill has achieved plaudits for her in-depth online blog commentary in Articles of Faith.

The Independent, which has traditionally been the least interested in religious issues since it came onto the scene, has also been sharpening its coverage and free-thinking perspective with its new religion correspondent, Jerome Taylor.

In 2008 the Telegraph sacked their then religious affairs correspondent Jonathan Petre, in spite of his high reputation and respect among fellow professionals.

[Ekk/3]

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