Tributes have been paid to a man often described as “a journalist’s journalist”, Geoff Hill, editor of ITV News, who has died from leukaemia, aged 52.
It was typical of Geoff’s energy and resilience that, until the very end, he was still campaigning for the charity Cure Leukaemia. He was diagnosed with the disease four years ago.
ITN CEO Deborah Turness said Geoff “led from the front, with guts and raw energy. His enthusiasm was limitless because he just loved his job.
“He came to work every day with a big smile on his face. He was a force of nature and loved nothing more than to be at the heart of the barely controlled chaos of a breaking news story. He was fizzing with ideas, a human dynamo always ready for action.”
News at Ten presenter Tom Bradby said he was “an incredibly talented, driven and immensely supportive boss”.
Another ITV presenter, Charlene White, echoed the sentiments of many of her ITN colleagues when she said: “Geoff was a one-of-a-kind boss. There was something about his south-east London swagger that put him head and shoulders above the others.”
Geoff, who, in 2016 was behind ITV’s decision to be the first to declare that the Brexiteers had won the EU referendum, took charge of ITV News in 2013. Two years later, it won an unprecedented clean sweep at the RTS Television Journalism Awards, taking the News Coverage – Home and International, Network Presenter of the Year and Daily News Programme of the Year prizes.
He described running the ITV newsroom as “the greatest honour of my career”, as he oversaw the reinvention of both News at Ten and the ITV Evening News; each dropped their double-anchor format.
Geoff also spearheaded an overhaul of ITV News’s digital activities and, crucially, addressed the company’s gender pay gap and lack of on-screen diversity.
As part of these changes, he poached Robert Peston and Allegra Stratton from the BBC. The former became political editor, the latter national editor.
Geoff was born in Croydon, the eldest of three children to Robin and Pauline Hill (née Lambe), a lawyer and nurse, respectively. He was educated at Colfe’s School in Greenwich and at the University of Kent, where he read politics and government.
His first job in journalism was on his local turf, working at Southwark News, but he was determined to work in TV news. After landing a job at London News Network, he rose rapidly through the ranks.
A stint as news editor at GMTV (the predecessor to ITV breakfast show Good Morning Britain) was followed by junior news editor in the main ITV newsroom before he was quickly promoted to foreign news editor and programme editor of News at Ten.
There was also a spell editing Channel 5 News. There, he forged a close working relationship with its then-owner Richard Desmond, not always regarded as the most emollient of bosses. He also ran an ITN fledgling sports news station and was director of coverage, EMEA, at London-based CNN International.
Geoff is survived by his wife, Natalie, and his three children by two previous marriages, Emily, Olivia and Alfie.