RTÉ to hire eastern Europe reporter as Ukraine war ‘transforms priorities’

New York and Nairobi postings also planned, with Department of Foreign Affairs funding

RTÉ News is to base a correspondent in eastern Europe as part of a doubling of its international postings largely funded by a Department of Foreign Affairs pilot scheme.

New correspondents will also report from New York and the Kenyan capital Nairobi, with the roles advertised both internally and externally.

Jon Williams, RTÉ's managing director of news and current affairs, said in a note to staff that Russia's invasion of Ukraine was "transforming global priorities before our eyes and will do so for a long time to come".

The third role was originally intended to cover China, but this has been updated to eastern Europe to reflect "extraordinary" developments in Ukraine.


“Clearly, China still is and will be a priority, but not this year,” Mr Williams told The Irish Times.

The eastern Europe role will possibly be based in Warsaw or Bucharest, but this has not been decided yet, with Mr Williams pointing to a "fluid" situation amid ongoing war in Ukraine and the mass displacement of its people.

Europe editor

The appointed journalist will work alongside RTÉ Europe editor Tony Connelly, who reported from Kyiv in the early days of the invasion before returning to his regular post in Brussels.

The New York correspondent will cover the United Nations Security Council, on which Ireland has a seat in 2021 and 2022, while the Nairobi-based correspondent will have a special focus on climate change and development issues.

The Global Ireland Media Challenge Fund was set up by the Department of Foreign Affairs for “facilitating media coverage of global developments impacting on Ireland, both in our role on the Security Council and more widely”.

The department has said editorial independence “within the overall terms of the initiative” will be a bedrock principle of the fund, to which other media organisations are understood to have applied.

‘Opportune moment’

Mr Williams, a former BBC World News editor and former managing director of international news for US network ABC, said the fund was similar to how the UK’s foreign and commonwealth office provided grant-in-aid to the BBC World Service.

“It has been quite long in the planning, but in terms of making the announcement today, it could not have come at a more opportune moment,” he said, expressing hope that the funding would continue beyond its initial two-year pilot.

RTÉ will also rebrand online foreign coverage and some of its television reporting as RTÉ World Report, the name of the weekly Radio 1 programme that first aired in 1969.

The public service broadcaster is set to hold interviews in the coming weeks for the post of London correspondent following Sean Whelan’s move to become Washington correspondent.

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery is an Irish Times journalist writing about media, advertising and other business topics