Harold Evans, the crusading British newspaper who was expelled as editor of The Times in London by Rupert Murdoch in 1982 and rediscovered in the United States as a publisher, author and literary luminary, died Wednesday night in New York. He was 92 years old.
His wife, editor Tina Brown, confirmed his death in a statement. She told Reuters, where Mr Evans was editor-in-chief, that the cause was congestive heart failure.
From smoky Fleet Street newsrooms to star-studded literary circles in New York, Mr. Evans has risen to success with relentless independence, innovative ideas, and an appetite for risks that often led to postwar changes in journalism, publishing, and public tastes. countries of the Atlantic.
He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2004 for his contributions to journalism, although he left Britain 20 years earlier and became an American citizen.
As editor of The Sunday Times for 14 years, from 1967 to 1981, and another year in his daily sister edition, The Times of London, Mr. Evans removed the gray columns of the family and suffocating traditions by building a circulation with heavy-duty investigation reports, sophisticated news analysis and eye-catching layouts and photos.
Sometimes risking devastating fines or even imprisonment, he challenges British defamation and national security laws; conducts a campaign successfully for national Pap tests for cervical cancer; expose the horrors of thalidomide; and traced the difficulties of the British secret intelligence services in the case of Kim Philby, the double agent who deserted in Moscow.
Journalists voted for him in 2002 as Britain’s greatest newspaper editor of all time. But on top of his success, he came across Mr Murdoch, the Australian media mogul. Mr Murdoch had added The Times and The Sunday Times, along with the broad-minded voice of the British establishment for 200 years, to his tabloid empire and then relinquished his promise not to interfere with their editorial independence.
It was a titanic year-round struggle that Mr. Evans inevitably lost, as he recalls in Good Times, Bad Times, a 1983 memoir that chronicles the episode. “Ultimately, everything depends or falls on the values and judgment of the owner,” he wrote. “At its highest levels, the great newspaper is not just personal property, but public trust.”
Arriving in the United States in 1984, he landed on his feet, but his wife hit the ground. A former editor of Tatler magazine in the UK, Ms. Brown became editor of Vanity Fair (1984-92) and The New Yorker (1992-98), injecting these magazines with new energy while causing controversy with her own iconoclastic style. Later, she launched and edited the news website The Daily Beast. Mr. Evans has taught at universities, edited several publications, and was editor-in-chief of Condé Nast Traveler.
But it was as president and publisher of Random House, from 1990 to 1997, that he gained popularity and came to symbolize the era of change in publishing, a business not accustomed to fast, startling moves. Acting at journalistic speed, Mr. Evans shook staff, spent millions, spun profits, caused discontent and admiration, and created a buzz more often associated with Hollywood movies than books.
His mandate from the owner, SI Newhouse Jr., was to remodel a narrowly focused, barely lucrative house that embodied excellence after the publication of James Joyce’s Odyssey in 1934. He soon expanded Random House’s list of titles to include business , science, art, photography, poetry, current events and blockbusters.
He published Norman Mailer, William Styron, EL Doctorow, Joe Klein’s 1996 anonymous novel Basic Colors, and General Colin L. Powell’s My American Journey (1995, with Joseph E. Persico). But he spent lavishly on some advances: $ 2.5 million for Dick Morris’s Behind the Oval Office (1997) and $ 5 million for Marlon Brando’s autobiography, Brando: Songs My Mother Taught Me (1994, with Robert Lindsey).
Mr. Evans is full of enthusiasm for the photographs of Richard Avedon and Robert Mapplethorpe, for the re-introduced list of classics of the modern library and for his shameless advertising promotions – Shaw’s play festival for publishing a new biography and for advertising the “Beast”. Peter Benchley’s Octopus, the sequel to Jaws, beach posters that read “There’s Something in the Water!”
It generated huge publicity with its star-studded, sold-out literary snacks in Manhattan, including panel discussions by famous authors, and drew a parade of celebrities to chronological paparazzi parties at the Evans-Brown garden suite at the fashionable Sutton Place in East Manhattan Side.
At a party or breakfast, Mr. Evans conveyed a tired world, talking in cultured tones of books and newspaper adventures. Tough at 5 feet-7, he could look slightly crushed by the whole trip. Beneath his flying hair, his expression was usually thoughtful, a face outside Fellini: grim, intense, lined with a lifetime of editorial decisions.
Harold Matthew Evans was born in Manchester, England, on June 28, 1928, the eldest of four sons of Frederick and Mary (Hasselum) Evans. His father was a railway engineer, his mother a food grower. He was 11 when World War II broke out, and he was hiding with his family in shelters near their gloomy rowing house on the outskirts of Manchester while German bombers destroyed the city center.
He graduated from St. Mary’s Central High School in 1943, where he played football, edited a student newspaper, and became an avid movie buff. “Hollywood increased my fascination with newspapers,” he recalls. “I identified with the editor of the small town, who confronted the crooks, the tough reporter won the story and the girl, and the foreign correspondent outwitted the enemy agents.”
He received his first job in 1944 in The Ashton-under-Lyne Reporter, before serving in the Royal Air Force from 1946 to 1949. He studied economics and political science at the University of Durham, graduating in 1952, and then joined The Manchester Evening News as a reporter and editor. On an American scholarship from 1956 to 1957, he studied at the University of Chicago and Stanford University.
In 1953, Mr. Evans married Enid Parker. They had three children, Ruth, Catherine and Michael, and were divorced in 1978. He married Mrs. Brown in 1981 – they had met when he edited The Sunday Times and she wrote for the newspaper as a freelancer. – and has two children with her, George and Isabel, who also survive him.
In 1961, Mr. Evans became editor of the Northern Echo newspaper in Darlington, a working-class area in northeast England. There he began a crusade, demanding an investigation into the case of Timothy Evans (unrelated), who was hanged in 1950 for the murder of his wife and newborn daughter, mainly on the testimony of a neighbor who was later convicted of the crimes. . His campaign led to a posthumous pardon and contributed to the abolition of the death penalty in Britain in 1965.
Hired in 1966 by The Sunday Times, he became editor a year later and transformed the regular weekly into Britain’s best investigative article. His reports in 1967 revealed that Soviet mall Kim Philby was not a low-level diplomat when he deserted in 1963, but a head of anti-Soviet intelligence and a chief liaison officer for CIA allegations that Mr. Evans was endangered national security with his revelations were withdrawn in embarrassment.
What many called his greatest triumph came during an investigation into the tranquilizer thalidomide, which caused severe deformities in thousands of babies and led to lawsuits against a drugmaker. Mr Evans is campaigning for compensation for victims and is challenging a law against the publication of articles that could harm pending lawsuits. Finally, the drug manufacturer has paid settlements, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Britain’s efforts to suppress the reports had violated freedom of speech and that Parliament had liberalized the country’s civil disrespect laws.
After his widely publicized departure from The Times and relocation to the United States, Mr. Evans taught at Duke and Yale Universities, became editor of The Atlantic Monthly Press, and became editor-in-chief of US News & World Report. mandate to revise it.
He later became the founding editor of Condé Nast Traveler, where he worked from 1986 to 1990. The magazine broke through with heavy reports by writers who, unlike those covering the tourism industry for many other publications, were banned from accepting free travel. food or accommodation from those they write about. Some advertisers withdrew, but the magazine prospered and won awards.
Mr. Evans became a U.S. citizen in 1993. After leaving Random House in 1997, he was executive director of The Daily News in New York, US News & World Report (second step), The Atlantic Monthly, and the business magazine Fast Company.
At the time, he was writing The American Century (1998, with Gail Buckland and Kevin Baker), a lavishly illustrated bestseller that critics called an ambitious and innovative approach to history.
Other books follow: “Military Stories: Reportage during the Crimean-Iraq Conflict” (2003), “They Made America: From the Steam Engine to the Search Engine, Two Centuries of Innovators” (2004, with Gail Buckland and David Lefer), his best-selling memoirs “My Paper Chase: True Stories of Vanished Times” (2009) and “I Make Myself Clear? Why writing is important ”(2018).
In 2011, he was elected editor-in-chief of Reuters.
For all of Mr. Evans’s raids on magazine editing, book publishing, and writing, he never lost his passion for newspapers. “How delicious is the smell of still warm newsprint!” He wrote in My Paper Chase. And he remained a fool at heart. “The newspaper is an argument on the way to the deadline,” he said. “If there are no arguments, there are not many newspapers.”
Still, he feared the future of newspapers and the impact their decline could have on the democratic institutions he praised in his book, The American Century.
“I think the certain commitment to the public good has disappeared in the circulation race,” he told NPR in 2009. “I think that’s emphasized when you get newspapers, like all over America, from people who either take a lot to bought the newspaper or never had an interest in real journalism.
“The kind of investigative journalism that I think is the absolute essence is in danger and has actually disappeared in many places,” he added. “We have to have this spotlight to know what the hell is going on. So when newspapers or television ignore reporting, so you get bits of opinion without any factual basis, we will all suffer for it. “