Magazine article Editor & Publisher

President `Garners' Credit at Thomson

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

President `Garners' Credit at Thomson

Article excerpt

Stuart Garner, the president of Thomson Newspapers, was feeling smug. Two years into his reign, the chain had begun to improve its poor image, thanks to heavy investment in equipment and people in recent years. Profit margins were decent, while revenue growth was above average. Overall circulation was looking up.

"We've beaten our annual budget every year I've been here, and our budgets are pretty demanding," crowed the British-born Garner, 55, during an interview at Thomson's headquarters in Stamford, Conn., last month.

But Garner's tenure was short-lived. After years of fighting back rumors that it's getting out of newspaper publishing, Thomson Corp. is doing just that. Garner's time with Thomson, where he began his newspaper career, is about to come to an end.

His career started shakily. As a university grad, Garner was relatively unprepared for the gritty world of British newspapering when the 250,000-circulation Evening Chronicle in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, then a Thomson paper, took a chance on him.

The environment wasn't for the faint-hearted. His editor would slide his meager weekly pay across the floor to him in a brown envelope, barking, "Get on your knees, because that's all your worth." The training was succinct: spell Thomson without a "p," and never use the word "unique."

Garner almost didn't make it. At the end of his six-month probationary period, the editor pronounced him "useless," but gave him an extra month to prove his worth. When all hell broke loose one day, he got his chance. "I got three stories on Page One that day," he recalls, "and that saved my bacon. …

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