Irish Examiner View: Harold Evans, 1928-2020 - A principled, brave champion

Irish Examiner View: Harold Evans, 1928-2020 - A principled, brave champion

Harold Evans, former editor of The Sunday Times and editor-at-large for the Reuters news agency, died of congestive heart failure, his wife Tina Brown said. 

Every profession throws up individuals so exceptional that they become known outside the bubble they share with their colleagues. 

Harold Evans, who died aged 92 on Wednesday, was one. He was one of the most influential media figures of his generation. 

He earned that position over a 70-year career as a relentless investigative journalist, magazine founder, book publisher, and author. 

He also taught extensively in American universities and wrote an unsurpassed series of textbooks on newspaper writing and production.

Those were his stepping stones but the spirit, purpose, the principled and enduring commitment to high ideals singled him out and made him an inspirational figure for generations of journalists. 

In 2002, the Press Gazette named him the greatest newspaper editor of all time.

In 1967 he exposed Kim Philby, a top-level British intelligence officer as a Soviet spy. 

Later, he campaigned, almost alone, for a decade to win compensation for children damaged by thalidomide. 

His anti-Thatcher campaigning led to his move to America.

He edited the Sunday Times for 14 years and became editor of the Times after Rupert Murdoch bought that paper in 1981. 

Murdoch was allowed to buy the papers on foot of assurances on editorial independence. 

“He broke them all within a year,” Evans said in 2013. 

He quit the Times a year after Murdoch became proprietor.

At this precarious moment, when Fox News owner Murdoch and others like him exert such a malign influence, figures like Evans are to be cherished by anyone who cares for stable, liberal, conscientious democracy. 

An inspirational life well lived.

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