Bitter personal rivalries usually aren't forgotten in journalism, much less laid aside in the interest of craft. (Just you wait till we all answer to Julia Allison). So it's pretty big indeed of Sir Harold Evans, author of the five-volume newspaper aesthetics bible Editing and Design, to dispense kind words about his archnemesis Rupert Murdoch. The sage old husband of Tina Brown tells The Independent, "The Wall Street Journal has, in the last two or three months since Murdoch took it over, been dramatically improved. They've got rid of the Cheltenham mountainous face, that is still in The [New York] Times...They've made the mistake of still continuing the upper capitalisation but the whole Journal is well-designed – a major improvement in my opinion." What oceans of hostility lie beneath this happy talk of typeface.
Ironically, it's the same overweening tendencies Murdoch displays now to such apparent delight that got Evans sacked from the editorship of the British Times in 1982 after only a year's tenure (he complained about the lack of editorial independence — sound familiar?) But even prior to that, Harry skirmished with Rupert and came away defeated and bruised.
He'd tried to lead a management buyout of The Sunday Times, which Evans edited to great acclaim for 14 years, only to find, as he later recounted to Forbes's James Brady, "we were outwitted by Rupert. My colleagues thought he would better handle the unions, and they were right. He did." That may be read as faint praise for the better businessman, but Evans still thought of Murdoch as a force of true evil in news publishing. As he wrote on page one of his memoir Good Times, Bad Times, "I knew that Murdoch issued promises as prudently as the Weimar Republic issued Marks." Much of the remainder of the book explains why and how this is so.
Evans must really despise the Cheltenham mountain face to sound so generous now.