Martha Kearney – The Matrix Database

Martha Kearney and her husband Chris Shaw, an influential editor/director at rival broadcasters including Channel 5 and ITN

The Matrix Project is an effort to document personal factors that undermine powerful journalists’ claims of objectivity and impartiality. Are factors such as an elite education, establishment connections, personal wealth and interests in rival fields compatible with journalistic integrity? 

This page looks at BBC journalist Martha Kearney. For more information on the database click here.


Learn about the significance of a private/Oxbridge education here

Martha Kearney attended a mix of state and private schools including George Watson’s Ladies’ College (source)

She studied classics at St Anne’s College, Oxford (source)

Revolving Door

Learn about the significance of the Revolving Door here

Martha Kearney has no significant experience working in rival fields to the media

“Establishment” Connections

Learn about the significance of Establishment Connections here


Martha Kearney’s father Hugh Kearney was an influential historian (as highlighted by this lengthy obituary in The Guardian)

Martha Kearney’s husband is journalist Chris Shaw (source), who has been Programme Editor of News at Ten, Home and Foreign News Editor of Channel 4 News, Launch Editor of the Big Breakfast News, Senior Programme Controller for Channel Five and Editorial Director at ITN Productions (source)



Salary/Indications of Wealth

Learn about the significance of journalists with an unusual level of wealth here

Martha Kearney earned an annual salary of £250,000-£254,999 in 2020/21 (source)

As a point of reference, the Office for National Statistics list the average UK salary for 2021 as £26,193

Complaints / apologies / controversies

Learn about the significance of complaints/apologies here

Somewhat unusually, for a highly-paid BBC presenter, we could not find any significant complaints, apologies or controversies involving Martha Kearney.

In Their Own Words

“Sometimes I’ve kept stories from (my husband) and he’d try to guess what I was doing – but I am very strict about that. But a lot of what Channel 5 does is showbiz and entertainment stories and I’m more about politics.”

Martha Kearney (on the challenge of Being part of a “POWER COUPLE” in journalism)


Martha Kearney was privately educated then attended Oxford University. Her father was an influential historian and her husband is another major player in UK journalism. She earns in the region of 10 times the average UK salary.

Impartial? Independent? Holding the powerful to account?

Learn more about the Matrix Project here.

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