Former Independent science editor Steve Connor has died: 'A giant of British science journalism'

The Independent’s former science editor Steve Connor, who has been described as a “brilliant investigative reporter” and a “world-class science journalist”, has died aged 62.

Connor won a number of awards for his work reporting on major new scientific discoveries throughout a career spanning more than 35 years.

His scoop on gene editing, which was the i newspaper splash on 27 July (pictured below), saw him shortlisted for Press Gazette’s British Journalism Awards which take place on 11 December.

Press Gazette understands Connor had been having treatment for cancer after being diagnosed in 2011 and his wife Ines and step-daughter Marshsa were with him when he died on Wednesday.

Connor left The Independent after 18 years and went freelance when the title’s print edition closed last year. He has worked for the New Scientist, Daily Telegraph, the Times and Sunday Times.

Connor was named UK Science Writer of the Year five times at the Association of British Science Writers Awards, including last year.

Oly Duff, editor of the i newspaper, said: “Today, our newsroom remembers former science editor Steve Connor. World-class science journalist.

“Trusted by readers, trusted by scientists, scoop after scoop. He broke major stories on human genome, climate change, Higgs boson, Crispr gene-editing during 36 years reporting.

“When Steve walked over and said, ‘I think I might have a story…’ you knew to drop whatever you were doing and give him your undivided attention. It normally meant two or three front pages, with follow-ups for years.”

He added: “Steve is a loss to science journalism and to public understanding of science. He could distill incredibly complex ideas into everyday language without distorting their meaning.

“I feel privileged to have had the chance to work with him.”

Former New Scientist editor and science editor at the Telegraph, Roger Highfield, said it had been a “privilege to work with [Connor] long ago when he joined me on the Telegraph. Formidable, dependable and brilliant investigative reporter, starting with HIV and most recently with brilliant scoops on Crispr. And a very nice guy.”

BBC science correspondent Pallab Ghosh‏ said: “I’m so sorry to hear that my friend and fellow science journalist, Steve Connor has passed away. He was a great reporter, always getting the scoop and never following the pack. He was a great role model and an example to us all. He’ll be greatly missed.”

Former Independent editor Amol Rajan described Connor as a “giant of British science journalism”.Current Independent editor Christian Broughton said: “Steve was hugely admired throughout the industry, and was held in the highest esteem by all of us at The Independent.

“His journalism rightly won him many awards, and brought us many great splashes. He commanded respect naturally, speaking quietly and calmly, always with accuracy and authority.

“A great journalist, and a great colleague, who will be sadly missed.”

Environmental journalist Geoff Lean said: “Steve was one of the very best science journalists of his generation working anywhere in the world. Gentle in person, but professionally tenacious, he broke – and kept pursuing – many of the biggest stores over decades, whether exposing scandals at Sellafeld or revealing the seriousness of climate change.

“And even though ill, he had another tremendous year in 2017: his shortlisted stories on ‘designer babies’ comprised one of the best scoops of the year.”

Former i and Independent environment editor Mike McCarthy told the i newspaper: “Steve was the best science journalist of his generation. He did more than anyone else to bring home the reality of climate change to people in Britain – besides much else.

“He was wholly committed to the truth. He was straight as a die. He was the sweetest man you could ever meet.”

Picture: i newspaper

Comments

5 thoughts on “Former Independent science editor Steve Connor has died: 'A giant of British science journalism'”

  1. I’d go as far to say he was the best science journalist in the world. He was always several steps ahead of the rest of us, was utterly meticulous in his research, and quietly tenacious in seeking out the truth. He raised the bar for all of us who cover science. Above all, he was an incredibly generous-hearted, worldly-wise and likable man. I’m deeply shocked by the news and we will all miss him terribly

    1. Can’t see any reason to add the qualifier “one of ” the best science journalists of his generation in the case of Steve. For sheer quantity of top-rank scoops, who else comes close ?

      Quite apart from getting the stories, he also had the ability to convince news editors to give the stories prominence. Given the technical nature of some of his scoops, I was in awe of his skill in doing that. Am only sorry the demise of old-school journalism – and with it the chance to meet up for pints with amazingly talented fellow hacks – meant I got to spend far less time in his company than I would have liked.

      If anyone’s got a scoop about what it’s _really_ like Up There, it’ll be him. Can we have 2,000 words by 2PM, please Steve ?

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