This article was originally published in January 2015.
Harry Gordon, one of the greatest war correspondents, sports writers and newspaper editors of his generation has died at the age of 89.
A great friend of the Melbourne Press Club and foundation inductee of the Media Hall of Fame, Harry passed away peacefully surrounded by his family on the Gold Coast on January 14.
The author of 15 books and official historian of the Australian Olympic Committee, one of his greatest legacies as a crusading editor was a road safety campaign mounted by the then Sun News-Pictorial in 1970.
The “Declare War on 1034” campaign – launched after a year in which 1034 people died on Victorian roads – led to the first mandatory seat belt legislation in the world.
Press Club President Michael Rowland said it was his great pleasure to induct Harry into the Media Hall of Fame and hear his reflections on a wonderful career.
“He was a tenacious editor during a time when newspapers could really make a difference to society. Above all else, he was a true gentleman and a generous mentor to so many younger journalists,” Michael Rowland said.
Harry Gordon joined Sydney’s Daily Telegraph as a copy boy at the age of 16. In his 20s he was a war correspondent in Korea and Algeria. He later became editor of the Sun News-Pictorial and then editor-in-chief of the Herald and Weekly Times and Queensland Newspapers. He was also a chairman of Australian Associated Press (AAP).
In his various leadership roles, Harry became a mentor for hundreds of young Australian journalists.
After the Korean War, he was sent cover his first Olympic Games, in Helsinki, in 1952. That began a lifelong engagement with the Olympic movement and many books that recorded the “golden era” of Australian Olympic sport in the 1950s and 60s. The last of his 15 books From Athens With Pride was published last year.
Australian Olympic Committee President John Coates told guests at Harry’s 80th birthday party that he had earned the respect of many people throughout Australia and around the world for his support for the Olympic movement.
“Harry is held high on a pedestal by Olympic athletes… young and old. He is their friend, he is admired and trusted and treated like a member of the family,” John Coates said.
Harry was also a key figure in the establishment of the Victoria Media Hall of Fame, soon to become the Australian Media Hall of Fame. After stepping aside from the advisory panel, he was himself nominated and inducted in 2013.
Panel chair and Melbourne Press Club board member Michael Smith described Harry as one of Australia’s greatest all-round journalists – reporter, feature writer, war correspondent, editor, author, mentor and historian.
“He was universally admired and respected by his colleagues and his professional opponents. His greatest legacy was on road safety through a campaign that helped created a movement that led to the saving of hundreds of thousands of lives around the word, “ Michael Smith said.
See videos from Harry Gordon's Media Hall of Fame induction: