The death of Tony Howard is especially sad news for Newsnight.
In the 1990s, when Tim Gardam and Peter Horrocks were our editors, he was a very regular contributor to the programme. His film reports and studio analysis added a great historical perspective to the events of the time.
"What happened today reminds me of the Labour Party conference in 1963, when Harold Wilson told Richard Crossman ..." he would say with great authority.
Tony had an extraordinary memory for detail and anecdote, and for drawing historical parallels, and his contributions did a lot to spice up Newsnight's political output.
Like many journalists and writers, I owe a lot to Tony personally. He was editor of the New Statesman in the 1970s when I started subscribing to it as a schoolboy. It was a great magazine in those days, highly readable and vital to anyone interested in politics.
Tony developed a highly talented young team around him, both political and literary - encouraging and nurturing superb writers such as Christopher Hitchens, Julian Barnes, Martin Amis and James Fenton.
In the same spirit, Tony started a student column in the Statesman in 1976, soliciting contributions from the universities. So I immediately submitted what turned out to be my first ever article in the national press, though in truth it was radically rewritten by Patrick Wintour, another of Tony's young NS recruits.
Years later, in 1992, when Tim Gardam appointed me to the Newsnight reporting team, it was partly on Tony's recommendation.
Tony loved being in the company of young people, enthusing them with his wisdom and experience, encouraging and helping them to get into journalism and politics.
Presidents of the Oxford and Cambridge Unions, and university political clubs, could always rely on him to accept their invitations to speak. When I invited him to the Oxford Union in 1979 there was a mix-up over which side of the motion he was speaking on, but he happily proposed the opposite argument to that which he believed.
And later we sat up late in the steward's house at the Union talking politics. Indeed, I think he was the first Union guest to stay overnight on the premises.
One of Tony's most successful proteges was the novelist Robert Harris, who invited him to Cambridge as president of both the University Fabian Society, and then of the Union.
Less than a decade later, when Howard was deputy editor of The Observer, he got Harris appointed as the paper's political editor.
But Tony's career never quite reached the journalistic heights which he deserved. He would have been a brilliant editor of a national newspaper. But the opportunity never came.
Few Fleet Street chairs are available for serious men of the Left, and the two obvious papers for Tony - The Guardian and the Observer - tended to keep their editors in place for many years.
He had to content himself with running the New Statesman, and later the Listener, and then his deputy role on the Observer.
Still, it left Tony with more time for his articles, columns and book reviews, his many radio and TV broadcasts, and for his own books, which included biographies of RAB Butler, Richard Crossman and Basil Hume.
He also helped Michael Heseltine with his memoirs, Life in the Jungle.
I will miss him. So will his many Newsnight colleagues over the years.