She joined The Times in 1988 as a graduate trainee, heavily covering the dissolution of eastern Europe, and later reporting from Moscow. In 1995 she became deputy editor of The Spectator, as well as being a columnist on its sister publication, The Daily Telegraph.[circular reference]
In 1997 she became associate editor of The Independent. In 2002 she moved to the Evening Standard as executive editor remaining until 2009, though McElvoy still contributes a weekly political column. In 2009 she joined The Economist. She assisted Markus Wolf in the writing of Man Without A Face: The Autobiography Of Communism’s Greatest Spymaster and Memoirs Of A Spymaster: The Man Who Waged A Secret War Against The West, and The Saddled Cow: East Germany’s Life And Legacy.