Martha Catherine Kearney

Areas of Interest

Literature, Media

Honorary Award

Honorary Master of Arts, 2003


Born in Dublin, Martha Kearney is a prize-winning broadcast journalist and patron of the charity Learning through Leisure with Holiday Explorers. She was educated in Edinburgh before going to St Anne's College, Oxford to study Classics. Her broadcasting career began with Independent Radio News in London, where she quickly progressed from phone operator to reporter, presenter and lobby correspondent. Her television career began in 1987 with Channel 4's A Week in Politics. After moving to the BBC for On the Record, Martha joined Newsnight in 1994, covering the negotiations that led to the Belfast Agreement, for which she was to receive a BAFTA nomination. She became Newsnight's Political Editor in 2000. Martha went on to cover a number of high-profile events including Tony Blair's post-9/11 tour of the Middle East, the Hutton Inquiry and the loya jirga in Afghanistan. She won the Sony Bronze Radio Award in 2001 for a special broadcast on child poverty. In 2007 Martha became the presenter of The World at One on Radio 4 and also presents The Review Show on BBC 2.

In 2003 Martha Kearney was awarded an Honorary Master of Arts.


"The Senate of Anglia Polytechnic University has great pleasure in recommending the award of an Honorary Master of Arts degree to Martha Catherine Kearney, BA, prize-winning and nationally reputed broadcast journalist, working in television and radio for the BBC and exceptionally dynamic Patron of the Bury St Edmunds-based charity - Learning through Leisure with Holiday Explorers.

Today we honour Martha for her dynamism and commitment. She has made a noteworthy contribution to the local community through her work as Patron of this most commendable charity devoted to improving the quality of life of people with learning difficulties and at the same time, she has developed a reputation as one of the BBC's most high-flying political journalists. She is indeed a worthy role-model for the young women of today.

Martha was born in Dublin. The family later moved to Sussex and then to Scotland, where Martha attended school at George Watson's Ladies' College in Edinburgh, prior to going up to Oxford to study classics at St Annes' College.

She began her professional career as a trainee at London Broadcasting Corporation and during her seven years there, served also as a phone-in-presenter, then political correspondent. It was in 1988 that she moved into TV on Channel Four's Week in Politics, then becoming a reporter for BBC Radio 4's On the Record, prior to spending a year travelling around the world.

On her return in 1991, Martha resumed her broadcasting with On the Record where she was occupied until 1994, when she moved to Newsnight on BBC2 TV. There, she is now Political Editor and actually presenting the programme less frequently. She has also been a presenter of BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour since 1998 and is also a regular presenter on Radio 4's Today programme.

Martha's broadcasting activities have not gone unnoticed in the world of media nor in the world at large. In 1998, she was nominated for a British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) award for her coverage of the Northern Ireland peace process, in 2000 she was nominated (together with colleague Jenni Murray) for a Sony Radio Award for news and talk broadcasting and in 2001, Martha won the Sony Radio Bronze Award.

The charity of which Martha is the extraordinarily active Patron is called Learning through Leisure with Holiday Explorers (formerly Holiday Explorers). It aims to provide people who have learning disability (these are the Explorers) with an opportunity to increase their learning and social skills through leisure and holiday activities. Success is achieved by having volunteer companions (persons without learning disabilities) who offer individual support to the explorers, enabling them to gain confidence through the common focus of the holiday. Not only is Martha an asset as a Patron to the charity, but she also serves as a great morale-booster to the local team through her participation in specific fund-raising events.

It is for these reasons, therefore, that I invite you, Vice-Chancellor, to confer on Martha Catherine Kearney, BA, an Honorary Master of Arts degree of this University."