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Guardian announces new presenters for Today in Focus podcast

The Guardian has appointed Michael Safi and Nosheen Iqbal as the new lead presenters of its flagship daily news podcast, Today in Focus.

Guardian announces new presenters for Today in Focus podcast
Michael Safi and Nosheen Iqbal.

Michael Safi is currently an international correspondent at the Guardian, based in Beirut, Lebanon. He has played a leading role in the Guardian's global coronavirus coverage, and has reported on major stories in the Middle East and Asia, including the Beirut explosion and the Sri Lanka terrorist attacks. Michael was previously the Guardian's South Asia correspondent in Delhi, covering stories including India’s 2019 general election and the 2018 Thailand cave rescue. He began his career at the Guardian as a reporter for Guardian Australia in Sydney.

Michael will continue to be based in Beirut, further strengthening Today in Focus’s reputation for bringing listeners the best in international coverage, say the publishers.

Nosheen Iqbal is currently a reporter for the Observer. Before joining the Sunday paper, she worked as the Guardian's women's editor, a features commissioning editor on G2, a radio and podcast critic, and as contributing editor on the Guardian’s culture desk. Nosheen has also written on TV, the arts and music, and has judged the Edinburgh Comedy Awards, the Amnesty Media Awards, the Brit Awards and the Fourth Estate Short Story Prize. She is also a trustee of Faction Theatre.

Michael Safi and Nosheen Iqbal join Today in Focus in the coming weeks and will share presenting duties, appearing individually across different episodes. The pair replace Anushka Asthana who is leaving the Guardian this month, while Rachel Humphreys will continue to present alongside Michael and Nosheen.

Katharine Viner, editor-in-chief, Guardian News & Media says: “Michael and Nosheen are two outstanding journalistic voices with a wealth of experience across news, features, international affairs, arts, culture, and more. I look forward to hearing them on Today in Focus, following in the footsteps of the brillant Anushka Asthana.”

Nicole Jackson, head of audio, Guardian News & Media says: “We are excited to welcome Michael and Nosheen to the team, and to introduce them to listeners very soon. Today in Focus has flourished since launch; we have produced over 600 episodes, including our first mini series, won multiple awards and seen the number of listens grow by just over half in 2020. Audio remains an important part of the Guardian’s strategy, as we continue to connect more closely with readers and produce original journalism and impactful audio storytelling in new and interesting ways.”

Michael Safi says: "Anushka and the Today in Focus team have made the podcast a must-listen over the past three years and carved out a distinctive Guardian sound that's smart, authoritative and fun - not bad for a 200-year old. It's a great honour to join such a talented group and, along with Nosheen and Rachel, keep finding new ways to share Guardian and Observer journalism from the UK and around the world.”

Nosheen Iqbal says: "It is such a privilege to be joining Today in Focus and I can't wait to work with the brilliant, talented team to showcase the very best Guardian and Observer journalism. The podcast is essential listening to so many of us and it is a dream come true to be on the other side building on the fantastic relationship Anushka has established with listeners. I know how much people love Today in Focus, so it is the most exciting adventure for me to share in the joys of presenting with both Rachel and Michael."

According to the Guardian, Today in Focus has a growing and dedicated global audience, seeing a 51% uplift in the number of listens year-on-year (2019 vs. 2020), and regularly features at the top of the UK podcast charts for news and politics. Since its launch in 2018, Today in Focus has released over 600 episodes, including a special mini series exploring the case of the Freshwater Five, and has won a number of industry awards for its journalism, production and sound design.

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