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NCTJ unveils new law chief as McNae’s author steps down

Mark Hannah 2022A national newsdesk boss has been appointed the NCTJ’s media law chief examiner after the co-author of McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists stepped down from the role.

Mark Hanna has announced his departure after 16 years as chief examiner and chair of the NCTJ media law and regulation board.

He will be replaced in the role by Daily Express news editor Dan Townend, who is currently a senior examiner for the NCTJ.

Mark, pictured, chaired his final exam board meeting on Friday but will remain on the board as a senior examiner and adviser, in addition to his McNae’s duties.

He said: “It will be a wrench to stand down as chair and chief examiner, but I feel the time is right.

“I was very heartened to be told that Dan is willing to step into the role. With all the board, I look forward to supporting him as he leads it into the future.

“As chair, I always took great comfort in the wealth of experience of law board members, who do so much to develop and deliver the syllabus, through the exams and all else the board does.

“I am grateful too for all the years, and high level, of meticulous support, including timely suggestions and solutions, from all at the NCTJ.

“The law board and related NCTJ activity have been one of the most satisfying (and good-humoured) environments I have been involved in during my career, so I am glad to be able to have ongoing involvement, and to be able to continue to enjoy all the wonderful comradeship in that activity.”

Mark was honoured for his outstanding contribution to journalism training and education with the NCTJ chairman’s award last year, following his retirement from the University of Sheffield.

NCTJ chief executive Joanne Butcher said: “Mark, who had a hard act to follow and big shoes to fill when he succeeded Walter Greenwood in 2006, has done an outstanding job over the years and we are truly grateful for his commitment and brilliance in the role.

“I am delighted that Dan Townend is our new chair and chief examiner.

“Dan was chosen for the high standard and consistency of his work and commitment as a senior examiner as well as his current practitioner experience in both teaching and industry.”

Dan is a former associate professor at Kingston University and a member of the Independent Press Standards Organisation’s editorial advisory board.

He said: “Mark has been simply brilliant leading the law board over a long period of time.

“Along with his authorship of McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists and his lecturing to a generation of students at Sheffield University, he has been a driving force in the teaching of media law for some two decades.

“Working with him on the law board I know how much he does – his commitment, knowledge and good humour are inspiring. I’m delighted Mark is staying on the board and that we will still have his expertise and guidance.

“I’m honoured to be asked to take on the role of chair of the NCTJ law board and am looking forward to the challenge.

“The teaching of law and regulation is as important as it has ever been for working journalists. Good understanding of the key laws and regulatory environment is essential for journalists young and old.

“Journalism continues to face challenges in terms of law and ethics, not least with increasing pressure on reporting restrictions and access to courts, and I share the NCTJ and law board’s passion for a free press.”