HEADLINES AND DEADLINES
Newest asics womens running shoes just when you think you’ve got the measure of Keith Sut ton, he throws a grenade that explodes with surprises.
Sutton, who retires today as Editor of The Cumberland News and the News Star, is mercurial, bedazzling and occa sionally maddening.
For the past 12 years, he has had the last word on everything you have read in this newspaper. Editors are powerful beasts. They influence people and events; some of them strike fear and admiration in both their staff and the wider com munity.
Good regional editors fight for their communities when the going gets tough. In the case of The Cumberland News, the bad times in the last decade have notably included the foot and mouth outbreak and the Jan uary floods. So what kind of man has been whispering to you from behind the headlines? Now it is time to turn the tables and expose the facts about Keith Sutton who celebrates his 60th birthday today. He sits comfortably on a roller coaster ride and is faintly surprised if others turn dizzy. He splashes words around like paint both on the page and in conversation. In the newspaper industry, outside the confines of Cumbria, he is regarded as a big hitter shortlisted this month for the title of “Person of the Year” by the industry’s Press Gazette journal.
During his stewardship of the Editor’s chair, The Cum berland News has twice been voted the UK’s number one newspaper and the News Star is currently the North West’s daily newspaper of the year. This year Sutton was President of the UK Society of Editors which means he represented 400 editors nationally.
Right now, a Christmas card from Tony and Cherie Blair is sitting on his desk while one from Michael and Sandra Howard hangs on the wall.
It’s been a long march for one of the radical firebrands of the Eighties who in the Wapping print strike, which began 20 years ago this month, stood shoulder to shoulder on a picket newest asics womens running shoes line with Arthur Scargill and Tony Benn.
Sutton’s personal story is fas cinating. He was born in a blackpainted corrugated Nissan hut in the middle of Chobham common, Surrey. No other members of his family were much interested in words or politics but Sutton, equipped with six Olevels from his grammar school, talked his way into a reporter’s job on the Woking News Mail in 1962, beating the other applicant whose name was Philip Davies (who went into advertising, became a millionaire and later brought Sutton to Cumbria as editor of the evening paper at Barrow which Davies then owned).
As soon as he learned shorthand and acquired a notebook, Sutton discovered he had the equipment and the confidence to talk and listen to anyone. By the age of 17, bizarrely, he was a correspondent for The Times, reporting on a military funeral at nearby Pirbright; at 22, he was a subeditor on The Daily Mail and the Sunday Mirror, going on to senior editorial positions on the Daily Express and the London Evening News, ending his Fleet Street career at The Sunday Times. The move to Fleet Street transported Sutton from the gentle, rural patch of his child hood into one of the most crazy and frenetic working environ ments imaginable. He says: “As a holiday relief sports subeditor aged 20 on the Daily Sketch, I sat shaking with nerves at the bottom of a long table set in a newsroom full of characters from another world.
“There were Scots, Irish, Welsh, northerners, midlanders, cockneys, poets, poseurs all with one thing in common. They held you spellbound with their stories in the pubs if not in their copy,
After 12 years Sutton, conscious of his lack of formal education, abandoned the heady world of Fleet Street pops to gain a history degree at London University’s Goldsmiths Col lege, followed by three years of postgraduate study at the Institute of Historical Research.
It was during this stint as a mature student, now in his early 30s, that he immersed himself in political ideologies. “I ate Marx for breakfast, lunched on Lenin and Trotsky and drank red wine and Chairman Mao for dinner. It was a long way from the Beaverbrook and Rothermere empires I had left behind, though rather bor ingly my personal politics ended up somewhere left of centre near gel kinsei 5 Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill,
En route to the gel kinsei 5 libertarian left, Sutton had already put theory into practice. He became a member of a loosely organised group of activists who took part in the twoyear Grunwick dispute over trade union recognition. Bouts of direct action included the peaceful “hijacking” of a doubledecker bus to use it as a protest against Lord Denning during a campaign for “fair fares, Already an early master of the art of spin, Sutton organised all the protesters on the bus to dress in wigs and red gowns then unfurled a huge banner on the side of the bus proclaiming in true tabloidese “Democracy taken for a ride,
After the PhD research into radical political ideas newest asics womens running shoes of the late 18th and early 19th centuries (“I never got round to writing up the thesis beyond chapter five, he says in a rare admission of failure) Sutton drifted back into Fleet Street, working for the worthier broadsheets. Harold Evans had been his mentor and Sutton, in turn, briefly became Nigella Lawson’s, teaching the future television chef newspa newest asics womens running shoes per subbing.
In 1986, The Sunday Times moved to Wapping and Sutton became one of about 100 journalists who refused to cross the picket lines which had been organised by the print unions who were about to lose both jobs and power. He launched and edited a strike paper, the Wapping Post, which won him admiration and status across a broad spectrum of the left.
As a working class hero with journalistic credentials he was a natural for the editorship of a new leftofcentre national tabloid, News on Sunday, which launched in April 1987 with trade union backing and a char ter of highminded principles which its detractors predicted would doom it to commercial failure.
Sutton says: “I had to hire 60 journalists, talk to ad agencies, sweettalk our backers, promote it on TV and radio, and then produce it on untried technology. I survived interrogation by Jeremy Paxman and a stroking by David Frost. But sadly that bold Sunday paper was undercapitalised and run, outside of editorial of course, by a largely disorganised rabble. It collapsed in a heap after a few months,
Sutton’s clashes with John Pilger, another journalistic Titan of the left, are the stuff of newspaper legend. A BBC TV documentary series, to be screened next year, will re tell the story of the mayhem at News on Sunday. Sutton’s old friend and first rival Philip Davies invited him to edit his new evening paper the North West Evening Mail at Barrow. His partner Stephanie Thompson, an exObserver journalist, also changed direction by buying and running a hotel in Ulverston.
In 1993, Sutton took over the editorship of The Cumberland News and News Star, later adding the titles of Cumbrian Gazette, Business Gazette and the Eskdale and Liddersdale Observer to his portfolio. Fleet Street may have been one learning curve; Cumbria was another. Sutton says: “It was only when I came to Cumbria that I felt I was living in the real England, away from the extremes of London.
“On a personal level, I have made my permanent home in the centre of Carlisle. It’s a thoroughly nice town all right, city. The quality of life has improved a lot in the past ten years. Great shops, great restaurants, its own private motorway. I live in friendly, neighbourly Chiswick Street and I am in easy reach of the lakes and a beautiful coastline. Why would I retire anywhere else,
In fact, he prefers to say he is downscaling rather than retiring. Newspapers are a hard habit to kick. Sutton takes pride in his craft and sees him self foremost as a journalist and motivator “totally disorganised without my PA who is thankfully one of the best managers I have worked with,
He believes journalists are in the frontline interpreting an increasingly complex world to an increasingly questioning, better informed and less deferential society. He relishes the fact that representatives of each local political party are convinced this newspaper is always on the side of the other guy. He also recognises that the local newspaper is part of the commercial world, bringing buyers and sellers together through its advertising and performing an essential role as the family album for the community, recording births, deaths and marriages.
“We celebrate people’s lives, he says.
This week, the industry is celebrating his career. But the final pages are still to be writ ten. In April he becomes the editorial consultant for Business Gazette, “Cumbria’s only countywide newspaper, he enthuses. Other consultancies are in the offing. He has just helped to devise a new MA course, the Journalism Leader’s Programme, for the Uni versity of Central Lancashire where he is now an “industrial fellow,
“In some ways, I feel at the peak of my powers, he says. Which is a cue to take cover. Sutton may have made the jour ney to a liberal consensus but he will always have the desire to juggle with grenades newest asics womens running shoes gel kinsei 5.