By Emily Lipscombe
Friends, family and members of the Durham University community gathered on Thursday to celebrate the life of Sir Harry Evans, a former Palatinate Editor-in-Chief and alumnus of University College. The event in London’s Mansion House marked the official launch of the Harry Evans Global Fellowship in investigative journalism in partnership with Reuters, which will begin early next year.
Sir Harry, whose career included a 14-year stint as editor of the Sunday Times and his position as Editor-at-Large at Reuters before his death in 2020, was commemorated through readings and recollections by other prominent names in journalism. Beginning his career by revitalising Durham’s Palatinate as Editor-in-Chief in 1951, he then went on to become editor of The Northern Echo 10 years later in 1961. While at The Northern Echo, Evans’s editorial seeking to clear the name of Timothy Evans, who was wrongly executed for murder, was instrumental in the abolishment of the death penalty in the UK.
Sir Harry’s journalistic work in Durham and the North-East has been an integral part of his legacy and impact, and tributes and attendance from members of the Durham community were reflective of these special ties. Included in the memorial were readings from his autobiography, My Paper Chase, by Durham’s Vice-Chancellor Karen O’Brien, and a performance of America The Beautiful from Durham’s Full Score a cappella group.
Poppy Askham, Palatinate’s current Editor-in-Chief, and James Tillotson, Station Manager at PalTV, said: “It was truly inspiring to learn about the remarkable life of Harry Evans. Listening to stories shared by Harry’s friends and family allowed us to appreciate more fully his huge contribution to journalism and the impact he made on so many individuals’ lives. The launch of the fellowship is an exciting prospect both for the profession and Durham’s community. We hope it will ensure that student journalism continues to thrive in Durham.”
This fellowship, which celebrates Sir Harry’s legacy and close ties to Durham University, aims to foster a new and diverse era of investigative journalism. Funded by over $6 million in donations, including a $2 million donation from Reuters, the venture would give one fellow per year the opportunity to work on an investigative piece directly from the Reuters newsroom, with mentoring and support from Reuters editors and Durham academics. The first fellow selected would also be offered a position at Reuters for early 2023.
The fund will also make Durham the site of an annual forum for investigative journalism and media broadcasting, hosted at University College. Bringing together leading figures in journalism, including the fund’s annual fellow, the event aims to gather “a diverse and influential audience to discuss all aspects of the journalistic discipline.”
Image: David Shankbone (Creative Commons)