Crusading newspaper editor, Sir Harold Evans, has died of heart failure aged 92.
THE British-American journalist and writer forged a reputation as a trail blazer during his time as editor of the Sunday Times, most notably for his campaign for the families of children who suffered birth defects as a result of the drug Thalidomide.
Those affected later received compensation from pharmaceutical companies on the back of his expose of the morning sickness drug.
The campaign, launched in 1972, also led to a change in UK law to allow the open reporting of civil cases, which had previously made investigative journalism difficult.
Speaking of his investigative work, Evans told The Independent in 2014: “All I tried to do – all I hoped to do – was to shed a little light. And if that light grew weeds, we’d have to try and pull them up.”
Born in Manchester in 1928, Evans’ first taste of journalism came about at the age of 16 with a local newspaper, before he became editor of The Northern Echo in his early thirties.
Here he launched a campaign on cervical cancer which led to the implementation of a national program to detect the illness.
His lengthy and celebrated career also saw him take on role of assistant editor of the Manchester Evening News in 1952, having acquired a taste for investigative journalism travelling on a Harkness Fellowship in America for two years.
His determined approach to his craft resulted in an admission that poor maintenance had led to the Turkish Airlines DC-10 air crash outside Paris in 1974, which claimed the lives of 346 people.
This led to $60 million (around €51 million in today’s market) for families of the victims.
In the 1980s, Evans and his wife Tina Brown, moved to America, where he founded Conde Nast Traveler magazine and was appointed president and publisher of Random House.
Tributes have poured in for the editor who ‘changed the world’ in the words of Peter Barron, who edited the Northern Echo from 1999 to 2016.
He said Evans, who was knighted for his services to the media in 2004, “believed in campaigning journalism and he also understood the importance of getting out and listening to people”.
Thomson Reuters, the multinational media company, wrote: “We mourn the loss of Sir Harold Evans, who set the world’s gold standard for journalism.”
In a 2002 poll, Evans was voted the greatest newspaper editor of all time.
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