This past week saw the passing of one of the most important newspaper editors and designers of the 20th and 21st Century. Sir Harold Evans, who died on September 23rd 2020 in New York was the Editor-at-Large for Reuters Global News organisation, an author, major newspaper editor (The London Sunday Times and The Times of the UK), recognized as one of the world’s best-ever newspaper designers & typography thinkers, & also, the head of Random House book publishers in the USA, and editor to some very distinguished writers and politicians including Henry Kissinger, Marlon Brando, General Colin Powell, Norman Mailer, and many others.

In the 40 years of his subsequent career in New York after leaving the UK, he remained a staunch champion of all the best values of great journalism, particularly in recent years when it has been challenged by the new hegemony of social media, and the rise of political populism, with its partisan attacks on the business of truth-telling. Evans rose to the top table of New York’s publishing industry, but he did not forget the spirit and values that had got him there.

The sad news of Sir Harold Evan – a friend, a mentor, and one of journalisms towering global figures – passing away did indeed spark memories of his Royal Society of Arts visit. It was a very special occasion. The video of his talk “The Spirit of Innovation”, which was given in the Great Room of the Royal Society on 2nd June 2010, can still be found online here.

It is a fantastic talk that includes some important insights on the nature of innovation and what it takes to bring invention to market: “Innovation is not simply invention or discovery – it is invention or discovery brought to use.” (13:05)