Sir Harry Evans, esteemed newspaper editor, dies
September 24, 2020 - Sir Harold Evans, a British-American editor whose 70-year career set the gold standard for investigative journalism, has died at the age of 92.
“I cannot think of another editor whose influence on journalists and journalism matched that of Harry Evans,” said longtime friend Norman Pearlstine, executive editor of the Los Angeles Times. He knew Evans since he arrived in the U.S. in 1984.
Over the last four decades, Evans held several executive posts in New York, serving as editor of the Atlantic, U.S. News & World Report and the New York Daily News. He was the founding editor of Conde Nast Traveler in the late 1980s and a successful book publisher in the 1990s when he was appointed president at Random House.
Following his graduation from Durham University, Evans worked at the Manchester Evening News, before being appointed as the editor, at age 31, of the Northern Echo, a daily newspaper in the northeast England town of Darlington. Under his editorship, the paper campaigned over air pollution and successfully achieved a national screening programme for the detection of cervical cancer in women.
Eight years later, Evans took over as editor of The Sunday Times, a position he held from 1967 to 1982. In 1967, his Insight Team scored a massive worldwide scoop when it revealed that British intelligence agent Kim Philby was a double agent working for the Soviet Union.
Within a year, The Sunday Times campaign over congenital disabilities caused by the medication thalidomide resulted in Distillers -- the company that marketed the drug in Britain -- having to compensate families who suffered from the drug’s effects.
While at The Sunday Times, Evans pioneered its design with stunning photography, illustration and the use of infographics. Evans hired Edwin Taylor as design director and Peter Sullivan as head of graphics.
Evans received a knighthood in 2004 for his services to British journalism.
His wife, Tina Brown, said her husband died of congestive heart failure, according to Reuters, where Evans was an editor-at-large. He was 92.
EDITOR‘S NOTE: Duncan Mil had the honour of working with Sir Harry Evans at The Sunday Times from 1969 to 1974. At that time Mil was studying as a post-grad student at Birmingham College of Art, where Peter Sullivan was head of post-graduate design.
Each week Sullivan spent Thursday to Saturday in London, producing infographics for Harry at The Sunday Times. Mil’s first commission came on a Friday afternoon. Sullivan asked Mil to create an eight-column infographic explaining the Civil List -- showing how the Royal Family spent tax-payers’ money -- “by tomorrow morning.”
Mil was told to borrow the train fare from fellow students, and take the next train to London. He was met at Euston by Harry’s chauffeur-driven car.
After working through the night, with journalists and the picture desk, the graphic was approved and went to print -- Mil had caught the news bug.
That first night’s work earned £120 -- equivalent to US$2,500 at today’s value, and Mil was at that time living on a student grant of £360 a year.
Harry encouraged Sullivan and Mil to work on-site with photographers and journalists whenever possible. Subsequent stories Mil and Sullivan covered included the near-disaster of Apollo 13 in 1970; Munich massacre, 1972; and in 1973, the Yom Kippur War, deadly Isle of Man Summerland leisure centre fire, and Lofthouse Colliery disaster.