Thursday, October 8, 2009

Harold Evans: 'We have to keep doing it'

Revered editor Harold Evans still has an infectious enthusiasm for journalism more than 50 years after his first newspaper job. He tells Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger why the future of news is worth fighting for

Sir Harold Evans

The picture above is of an 81-year-old man taking a newspaper by storm. It is a picture of an editorial life-force, still insatiably curious, still shaking an impatient fist at the world. It is a picture of a showman.

Every Guardian reader over the age of 40 – and a good many younger – will recognise the distinctive figure of a newspaper legend: Harry Evans.  He is smaller now, his legs slower and his hair whiter.  But when he came into the Guardian's morning conference on Thursday he held an audience of journalists – many of them not born when he left his last great editorial job in 1982 – in the palm of his hand.

He was here as part of a whistlestop tour to promote the latest volume of his autobiography, My Paper Chase. There is pure nostalgia in his descriptions of the newsrooms of the past – a misty collage of paste pots, cigarette smoke, lead and ink.  But it is nostalgia with a purpose:  "I didn't want to write an extended obituary of journalism," he says. "One of the reasons I wrote the book ...  I wanted to do something which showed you what newspapers could do when they tried and had the will to do it."

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