Reuters and Durham University launch Sir Harry Evans global journalism initiative - Reuters News Agency

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Reuters and Durham University launch Sir Harry Evans global journalism initiative

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair looks on as Reuters Editor-at-Large Sir Harold Evans (R) moderates a Reuters Newsmaker conversation "Politics on the Edge," with Blair in Manhattan, New York, U.S., September 20, 2016. REUTERS/Bria Webb

Reuters and Durham University today announced the launch of a global initiative to nurture a new generation of investigative journalists. The programme, which honours celebrated British-born journalist, editor and author Sir Harry Evans, aims to identify and develop early career reporters from around the world.

Sir Harry set the gold standard for journalism in the public interest, spotlighting causes overlooked or denied.  He died in 2020, aged 92.

The Sir Harry Evans Memorial Fund will create two complementary programmes in honour of the former editor of the UK’s Sunday Times, Reuters editor-at-large and Durham University alumnus: A Fellowship in investigative journalism and an annual, agenda-setting Forum.

The Fellowship will offer a high-calibre candidate the opportunity to undertake a piece of investigative reporting from the Reuters newsroom, mentored by top Reuters editors and supported by academic links at Durham University.

The Fund will welcome applicants from all backgrounds who can tell stories from diverse perspectives and from around the world. The fellow will be appointed annually, following a competitive award process, and the first fellow will join Reuters in 2022.

The Fund will also enable the creation of an annual Forum for leading figures across media broadcasting and investigative journalism at Durham Castle, home to University College, Harry’s college at Durham University. The Forum will bring together a diverse and influential audience to discuss all aspects of the journalistic discipline.

Additionally, the winner of the Fellowship will have the chance to participate in the Forum in Durham.

The Sir Harry Evans Memorial Fund has the backing of Sir Harry’s widow, Tina Brown CBE, former editor of Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, and founder of The Daily Beast.  For further details, please visit www.durham.ac.uk/sir-harry-evans-memorial-fund

Alessandra Galloni, Reuters Editor-in-Chief, said: “Sir Harry Evans was a giant of journalism and an inspiration to those who worked with him. We hope that, through this initiative, Reuters can help support a diverse new generation of investigative journalists and newsroom leaders. We are delighted to be working in partnership with Durham University to champion independent journalism, nurture emerging talent and celebrate Sir Harry’s remarkable legacy.”  

Professor Antony Long, Acting Vice-Chancellor and Warden, Durham University, said: “Durham is an exceptional global research University, and part of a history of learning and curious inquiry stretching back a thousand years. This Forum and Fellowship will attract the very best minds and talents from the journalism industry together in academic and professional discourse in honour of one of our most notable graduates. Our partnership with Reuters will develop countless opportunities for students, researchers, and professionals alike around the world.” 

Tina Brown CBE, Sir Harry’s widow and an acclaimed journalist, said: “Harry was a voracious truth-teller and champion of courageous journalism in every form. The thought that we are doing something in his legacy to make sure Harrys of the future – whatever and wherever their gender, background, or means – are nurtured into the profession is something which I know would have moved him greatly.” 

David Thomson, Chairman of Thomson Reuters, said: “Harry cast an immense shadow and his spirit hovers today, stronger than ever.  Talent drew alongside and thrived under his leadership; alchemy simply unfurled.  Harry’s boundless curiosity, dogged determination and unwavering courage made one feel deeply human and proud.  Our family and everyone involved with this initiative believes it will attract and inspire individuals who truly believe in the future of journalism. Harry could never have wished for a finer narrative.”

Durham University has already received over $5M in pledges to support the establishment of the fund, including a $2M donation from Thomson Reuters. Further funding is sought to develop the scope of the initiative and to secure the endowment in perpetuity.

Further announcements and launch events for the Forum and the Fellowship will take place over 2022.  For more information on the Sir Harry Evans Memorial Fund please visit:  www.durham.ac.uk/sir-harry-evans-memorial-fund

About Sir Harry Evans

Sir Harry (Harold) Evans (1928-2020)was voted by his media peers the Greatest British Newspaper Editor of all time. He set the gold standard for journalism in the public interest, championing causes overlooked or denied. His work was distinguished by rigorous truth seeking, campaigning tenacity, and presentational flair.

The son of a train driver, he began his 70-year career in North East England. Evans became internationally acclaimed as editor of the Sunday Times from 1967-1981 under the paper’s ownership by Lord [Roy] Thomson, of whom Harry said, “It was not simply a question of editorial independence being absolute and unthreatened under Thomson, father and son; it was celebrated.”

One of Evans’ greatest triumphs was his ten-year campaign towin compensation for the victims of the morning sickness drug Thalidomide, which had inflicted thousands of birth deformities.

Others include exposing the cover-up of Britain’s intelligence services in the case of double agent Kim Philby; the unmasking of the corporate deception at the heart of the DC-10 Paris air crash in 1974 and the June, 1971 expose by Anthony Mascarenhas of the Pakistani army’s brutal massacre in its effort to suppress the Bangladeshi uprising, considered one of the most influential pieces of journalism ever written about South Asia.

This story and Mascarenhas’s reporting doubtless helped end the war by turning popular opinion against Pakistan. 

Evans credited his most formative years as those at Durham University, which he attended from 1949-1952. As an undergraduate at University College, he became a contributor and later editor of Palatinate, the University’s independent student newspaper.

Graduating into the rich ecology of North East local news and politics, he became Editor of the Northern Echo in 1961, where his campaign to win a pardon for Timothy Evans, a young illiterate man hanged for a murder he never committed, was a key influence in the ending of the UK death penalty. His crusade on the Echo to introduce pap smear tests for cervical cancer screening for women in the UK was an initiative that saved thousands.

In 1984, he moved to the United States, where he became President and Publisher of Random House, bringing scope and panache to a list of authors that included Norman Mailer, William Styron, and General Colin Powell. He wrote two critically acclaimed and bestselling histories of America: The American Century (1998) and They Made America: From the Steam Engine to the Search Engine (2004), as well as 12 other books including his vivid 2009 memoir My Paper Chase. In 2011, Evans was named Editor-at-Large at Reuters.

Knighted by the Queen in 2004, Evans received the lifetime achievement award from the UK Press Award committee. His work in photojournalism is recognised in the lifetime achievement award in the International Center of Photography. Evans received an Honorary Doctor of Letters from Durham University for his services to journalism in 1998, and remained an active alumnus and mentor to younger students.

“Harold Evans was an epic of decency, courage and moral determination,” wrote historian Simon Schama in TIME Magazine. “His career is a supreme reminder of the indispensability of fearless journalism to a democracy grounded in truth.”

Sir Harry and Durham University

For all of his adult life, Sir Harry was a senior ambassador and highly engaged member of Durham University’s senior alumni community.

In 1949, having achieved entrance as an undergraduate to University College, Durham – also known as Durham Castle, a universally important landmark built in 1072 – he became a contributor and later editor of Palatinate, the University’s independent student newspaper through which he honed his skills and passions for a lifelong career at the helm of global journalism.

“Durham was crucial for me…you would sit at dinner next to a Physician, a Musician, people from other subject areas and talk. There was a collision of all different disciplines.

By talking, you were already better educated.”

In 1998, he received a prestigious Honorary Doctor of Letters from the University for his services to journalism, presented to him by then University Chancellor, Sir Peter Ustinov. A proud ‘Castleman’, Sir Harry returned on numerous occasions to lecture to and mentor students at the University, helping later to relaunch Durham’s alumni and benefactor activities in New York and across the United States whilst Editor-at-Large, Reuters.

Sir Harry and Reuters

Sir Harry joined Reuters in 2011. In his role as editor-at-large, he moderated conversations with global newsmakers in business and politics who included John Kerry, Tony Blair, Madeline Albright, Al Gore, Samantha Power, Preet Bharara, General Jim Mattis and Satya Nadella.

He also created and oversaw a number of Reuters editorial events celebrating photographers and photojournalism. “Iconic in an Instant? One Trillion Images” brought photojournalists from around the world together to discuss the risks and rewards of combat photography, forensically detecting photo manipulation, the ethics of publishing shocking images and the role of the photo editor in the digital age. “Women in Focus” brought together an all-female group of Pulitzer Prize-winning photographers, photo editors, curators and journalists to discuss their ground-breaking work.

While at Reuters, Sir Harry also penned columns looking back at his memories of the Second World War, fresh questions about the lack of a verdict in the thalidomide criminal trial and the 2016 U.S. presidential race.

“Editor-at-large means you’re free to create as much havoc as they will tolerate,” he was quoted as saying by the Financial Times.

Media contact:

Heather. Carpenter @tr.com

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