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In Memoriam: Chris O’Hearn

Chris O’Hearn, who began the transformation of AP Archive into one of the world’s leading news footage collections, has died suddenly at the age of 57.

He was a director on the executive board of FOCAL from May 2004 to September 2005.

Chris’s passion for news footage stemmed from his early career as a TV journalist in his native Australia and then at Sky News in London.

He joined Associated Press (AP) in 1995 after the launch of its international TV news agency, holding senior newsroom roles in London and then New York.

In 2001, he switched to a business role in London as Head of Content Development which included streamlining operations in the AP Archive and laying the groundwork for later digitisation.

An early initiative by Chris was the digital restoration of the AP-owned iconic film of the last, fatal shot to the head of John F. Kennedy. The improvement in the quality of the amateur footage – known as the Marie Muchmore film – prompted wide usage ahead of the 40th anniversary of the U.S. president’s 1963 assassination.

Another “coup” for Chris was a trip to Pyongyang to negotiate international rights to all news footage of KRT – the North Korean state broadcaster.

After AP, he joined ITN Source in 2005 as commercial director for a brief spell and later held a range of executive roles with media companies in London and the Middle East.

Colleagues at AP remember him for his “decency, calm manner and fast, incisive mind.”

Chris and his wife, Sophie, had only recently rebased from London to County Durham where he was leading a hybrid life as a smallholder farmer and media consultant.

A funeral will be held on Tuesday, 28th November, at 1:30pm at Wear Valley Crematorium in Coundon, Bishop Auckland. Arrangements are being made for the service to be streamed for those unable to attend in person.

If you would like to attend the streamed service, please request details from [email protected].