She was educated at various schools in Sussex, including the independent Brighton and Hove High School, and at George Watson"s College in Edinburgh.
She is the main presenter of British Broadcasting Corporation Radio 4"s lunchtime news programme The World at One. From 1976-1980 she read classics at Street Anne"s College, Oxford. In her final year at Oxford, she worked as a volunteer in hospital radio.
She began her journalistic career at the London commercial station, LBC. British Broadcasting Corporation
In 1998 Kearney became a regular presenter of British Broadcasting Corporation Radio 4"s Woman"s Hour.
She also featured later in the episode in a spoof report from Notting Hill. In 2006 she presented with her father a Radio 4 series on the history of universities in Britain, The Idea of a University.
Kearney presented her final Woman"s Hour on 19 March 2007 and her final Newsnight on 23 March 2007. She became the main presenter of Radio 4"s lunchtime news programme The World at One on 16 April 2007.
She remains an occasional presenter of Newsnight Review, describing her current role as allowing her "to play to her strengths".
Kearney was nominated for a British Academy of Film and Television Arts award for her coverage of the Northern Ireland Peace Process in 1998. In 2013, Kearney featured in the Great Comic Relief Bake Office. In 2014, she presented The Wonder of Bees, a one-hour programme on British Broadcasting Corporation Four about the worldwide disappearance of bees.
In 2015, she presented The Secret World of Lewis Carroll, a one-hour programme on British Broadcasting Corporation Two.
In 2002 Kearney was a judge for the Webb Essay Prize. In 2005 she chaired the judges for the women-only Orange Prize for Fiction.
In 2000 she became political editor of British Broadcasting Corporation Two"s Newsnight programme. She went on to present Newsnight and its weekly consumer survey of entertainment and culture, Newsnight Review, with increasing frequency. She has been an occasional presenter of the Today Programme on Radio 4, and was a candidate to succeed Andrew Marr as the British Broadcasting Corporation"s political editor in 2005, but lost out to Nick Robinson.
Kearney featured in a spoof segment of the British Broadcasting Corporation comedy series Time Trumpet, titled Honey, I Shrunk Martha Kearney, in which Jeremy Paxman, in a fantasy version of Newsnight, interviewed her a third of her normal size.