BBC director of news James Harding is to stand down at the beginning of 2018.
In a statement, he said: “I am proud to have worked for BBC News as we renewed our reputation for responsible journalism.”
BBC director general Tony Hall praised Harding, saying: “James has done an incredible job during a hugely complex and momentous period.”
After four years in the role, Harding is leaving the BBC to set up his own news media venture.
Announcing the move, Harding said “even when we’re pedalling into the wind” that working at the BBC was “rewarding and worthwhile”.
Talking about his new company, he explained: “There is some journalism that the BBC, for all its brilliance, can’t, and probably shouldn’t, do.
“And that’s what I want to explore: I am going to start a new media company with a distinct approach to the news and a clear point of view.
“I know I will enjoy the chance to do some more journalism of my own and, at such a critical time, I’m seriously excited about the prospect of building a new venture in news.”
He said he’d reveal more in the new year.
Lord Hall thanked Harding for his service to the BBC.
“James has done an incredible job during a hugely complex and momentous period of British and world history,” he said.
“He has led the BBC’s coverage through two referendums, two general elections, an astonishing US presidential election, not to mention a series of extraordinary events at home and abroad.
“In the years James has been with us he’s played an important part in modernising and changing the BBC, but beyond that, he has been a first-class colleague and a pleasure to work with.”
A successor will be appointed by the end of the year, Lord Hall said.
Harding joined the Financial Times in 1994 and served as Shanghai correspondent, media editor and Washington bureau chief.
He joined The Times in 2006 as business and city editor and was editor from 2007 to 2012.
Harding was appointed in April 2013 to oversee all of the BBC’s news and current affairs programming.
The division’s workforce produces output across network news, English regions and the World Service group.
Analysis by BBC media editor, Amol Rajan
In an email to staff announcing his departure, James Harding covered what all departure messages must cover: his legacy.
Harding, who is – full disclosure – my ultimate boss, mentioned the emphasis on slow news, the hiring of new talent, new language services and the launch of the Reality Check brand to address the challenge of fake news.
Together these add up to a substantial legacy. But Harding, like any journalist, will want to be remembered above all for the stories that were covered during his tenure.