Jenni Russell

Jenni Cecily Russell (born 16 July 1960)[1] is a British journalist and broadcaster. She is a columnist for The Times, a contributing writer for The New York Times, and a book reviewer for The Sunday Times.[2][3] She has been a columnist for The Guardian and written the political column for London Evening Standard.

Jenni Russell
Jenni Cecily Russell

(1960-07-16) 16 July 1960 (age 60)
Johannesburg, Transvaal, South Africa
Alma materSt Catharine's College, Cambridge
Known for
(m. 1988)
RelativesHarry Lambert (journalist), son

She worked for many years at the BBC and ITN, latterly as editor of The World Tonight on BBC Radio 4. She is married to Stephen Lambert, a media executive, and lives in London.

Early career

Russell studied history at St Catharine's College, Cambridge, and went on to become a BBC News trainee. She worked for the BBC, as well as ITN and Channel 4 News. In 1998 she became joint editor of BBC Radio 4's The World Tonight, becoming one of the first people to pioneer job-sharing within the BBC.

On leaving the BBC, Russell began writing comment pieces for The Guardian and the New Statesman, before beginning to write regularly for The Sunday Times, for whom she also reviews books. She has been a vocal critic of the failings of the education system and criticised the increasing abuse of civil liberties under the last Labour government.

Career since 2010

According to Peter Hoskin writing in The Spectator she is a key figure in the New Establishment, due to her friendship with both Steve Hilton, David Cameron's director of strategy, and Ed Miliband, the former Labour leader.[4] She was tipped as one of the candidates to be the next controller of BBC Radio 4 in 2010, following the resignation of Mark Damazer.[5]

In May 2011 she won the Orwell Prize for Political Journalism,[6] having been shortlisted for the Commentariat of the Year at the 2010 Comment Awards.[7] She was described as "the stand-out journalist in an outstanding field". The judges commented:

"Her empathy for the world beyond Westminster gives her writing an extra dimension often lacking in political insiders. There is an overriding humanity to her work, whether she is covering the death-throes of the last Labour government or the birth-pangs of the Coalition."[8]

She wrote the Monday political column for the London Evening Standard for two years, from 2011 to 2013, and was shortlisted for the inaugural Hatchet Job of the Year Award in 2012 for her work on as a book reviewer in The Sunday Times.

In 2013, she became a member of the independent expert panel advising the Government on the initiation and publication of Serious Case Reviews, and in August that year began writing a column on Thursdays for The Times. At the 2015 Comment Awards she was named Society & Diversity Commentator of the Year.[9]

In March 2015, she profiled the Prime Minister, David Cameron, for The Times on the eve of the UK general election,[10] and in April 2016 she profiled the US Ambassador to the UK, Matthew Barzun, also for The Times.[11] In June 2016, she once again interviewed Prime Minister Cameron for The Times Magazine, this time ahead of the EU referendum.[12]

In 2017, Russell started writing for the New York Times as a contributing opinion writer. In 2020, she was long-listed for the Orwell Prize.[13]

Russell regularly appears on television and radio, on BBC's Newsnight and Sky News.


  1. "Who's Who". 2011. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.U254175. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  2. "Jenni Russell - The Times". The Times. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  3. "Jenni Russell - The New York Times". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  4. Hoskin, Peter (10 October 2010). "Cameron's tangled web". The Spectator. Retrieved 14 July 2018.
  5. Kiss, Jemima; Brown, Maggie; Sweney, Mark (14 April 2010). "BBC seeks new Radio 4 controller after Mark Damazer steps down". The Guardian.
  6. "Orwell Prize 2011 winners announced – The Orwell Prize". 17 May 2011. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  8. Deans, Jason (18 May 2011). "Jenni Russell wins Orwell prize for political journalism". The Guardian.
  9. "The Comment Awards 2016". Archived from the original on 29 January 2016. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  10. "24 hours with David Cameron". The Times. Retrieved 21 March 2016.
  11. "Yes, we can, Mr President". The Times. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
  12. "On the campaign trail with David Cameron". The Times. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  13. "Orwell Prize 2020 journalism long list". 8 April 2020. Retrieved 14 April 2020.