Tony Metcalf started his career as a district correspondent on the Northern Echo in 1987 and was assistant editor when he left in 2000.
He went on to enjoy a stellar career in international journalism as editor-in-chief of Metro International, overseeing Metro launches in Toronto, Barcelona, Madrid, Paris, Hong Kong and Seoul.
For the past five years he had been editor-in-chief of Metro US, overseeing the group’s Boston, Philadelphia and New York editions.
Tony died at St Teresa’s Hospice, Darlington, yesterday morning shortly after being diagnosed with the killer disease.
Friend and former colleague Peter Barron, editor of the Northern Echo, was among those who paid tribute.
“Tony was not only a fine, passionate journalist but a great character to have around,” he said.
“He brought infectious energy and fun to the newsroom, led from the front, and The Northern Echo was lucky to be one of the newspapers which benefited from his great qualities. He will be greatly missed.”
Tony also spent some time in academia as head of journalism, media and the arts at Darlington College, mentoring a new generation of young reporters.
College principal Tim Grant said: “Tony was a very influential journalist, who inspired a generation of young people to pursue careers in the media and made an enormous contribution to Darlington College.”
Sue Calvert, a journalism lecturer at the college, added: “Tony had recently been into the college to talk to some of the journalism students and made an important contribution to students on the NCTJ course.
“His love of journalism and passion for teaching remained very strong.”
In 2004, Tony left Metro International to launch a newspaper in Dubai, 7Days, which was hailed for pushing back the boundaries of reporting in the territory and helping open it up to greater scrutiny. He returned to Metro as US editor-in-chief in 2008.
Tony leaves a wife and two children, aged 18 and 10.