Sir Geoffrey Cox, the founder of ITN‘s News at Ten, has died at the age of 97. The New Zealander died peacefully on Wednesday, a statement from ITN said.
Sir Geoffrey was appointed the second editor of ITN in 1956 and started News at Ten, which recently returned to the ITV network, while still in this post in 1967.
He was later Deputy Chairman of Yorkshire Television, Chairman of Tyne Tees Television, and of London radio news station LBC.
The broadcaster and journalist began his career as a foreign newspaper correspondent in the UK during the 1930s, reporting on key European events leading up to the Second World War.
He interrupted his journalistic career to serve in the New Zealand army in the North African and Mediterranean campaigns.
Sir Geoffrey also spent two years representing New Zealand as a diplomat in Washington and finished the war as Chief Intelligence Officer for General Freyberg, commander of the Allied forces in Crete.
After the war he returned to journalism, becoming an Assistant Editor of the News Chronicle before joining ITN.
A statement from ITN said: “It is with great sadness that the family and friends of Sir Geoffrey Cox announce that he died peacefully yesterday. He was 97.
“Sir Geoffrey, a New Zealander, had a long and distinguished journalistic career and was appointed the second editor of ITN in 1956.”
Sir Geoffrey was knighted in 1966 for his services to journalism and received New Zealand’s highest civil honour, the New Zealand Order of Merit, in 2000.
Mark Wood, chief executive of ITN said: “Sir Geoffrey was a pioneer in many fields and as one of ITN’s first editors he created the culture for fast, dependable, enjoyable and accessible news programming which has been our hallmark ever since.
“He understood faster than most at the time how television journalism could transform the way the public were informed.
“The creation of News at Ten, his greatest legacy, was a classic example of his tremendous feel for the best way to engage the interest of millions of viewers in the day’s events.”
Nigel Ryan, former editor of ITN said: “This is a very sad day.
“Geoffrey Cox was a major figure of his time who commanded awe as well as affection amongst everybody who worked with him.
“It was Geoffrey who injected the iron of professionalism into ITN and prepared it for the launch, 50 years ago, of Europe’s first major half hour news.”
David Nicholas, former editor of ITN, said: “Sir Geoffrey Cox was a pioneer in developing television news in Britain.
“He was the founder of ITN’s News at Ten in 1967, the first half-hour news programme in peak time on a mass audience channel.
“He passionately believed that a service of hard news – presenting complex issues in an easily digestible way – would be popular with British audiences.
“He was a stickler for accuracy and impartiality in ITN’s reporting.”
Sir Geoffrey also wrote books drawing on his wartime experiences and was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship in 1932.
He is survived by two sons and two daughters, Peter, Patrick, Rosamond and Evelyn.