Gordon Brewerton has spent much of his adult life in newspapers.
He got his start as a 20-year-old driver, eventually working his way up to publisher.
Now, he’s bringing all of his perspectives and experiences gleaned over several years in the industry to Star News Publishing Inc. as the company’s new vice president and group publisher.
Based out of Prince Albert, Brewerton oversees the day-to-day operations of the company, guiding editors, sales staff and circulation in their mission to bring a quality product to readers every day.
After starting in circulation in 1980, Brewerton quickly advanced through the company, spending time as a circulation clerk, salesperson, reporter and salesperson again before taking on the role of publisher at age 26 in Ottawa.
That same company transferred him to Montreal in 1993. He became vice president in ’95, a year before Transcontinental bought the company. Brewerton stayed with Transcontinental for ten years, before leaving in 2006 to start his own media consulting business.
There, he worked with several organizations, including the Montreal Gazette, Heritage Canada and the Quebec Newspaper Association.
It was while in that role that in 2008 Brewerton was headhunted by Osprey media to become publisher of two dailies just outside of Toronto.
A short time after he joined Osprey, Brewerton went through a merger again, as Sunmedia bought the Osprey properties. Two years later, Brewerton was promoted to a bigger region, looking after several Ontario papers, including publications in Peterborough, Lindsey, Haliburton and Barrie.
That caught the attention of Torstar, who brought him on board to manage their Metroland community newspapers near Toronto. Then, Transcontinental came calling again. TC brought him in to take over as director of operations for all their publications in Newfoundland – two dailies, 11 weeklies and two commercial printing operations.
It was a job he loved, but soon, it became time for a new challenge. Star news Publishing came calling, offering him a position in Saskatchewan, where he could move to Prince Albert, the home of his wife’s family, and her home for her teenage years.
“I loved living in Newfoundland,” Brewerton said, “but it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”
Through his decades in the business, Brewerton worked for some of the country’s largest chains, and saw newspapers grow and evolve through challenging times. While it can be hard for a newspaper to thrive in a bustling metropolitan area, such as Toronto, with its dozens of alternative sources of news, the medium still has a home in smaller communities nation wide.
“In smaller towns across Canada, the newspaper is the primary source of information relevant to your life,” he said. “I think as long as kids are still learning on paper in schools, we still have a bright future for newspapers.”
Brewerton hopes to help support that bright future in Prince Albert, Moose Jaw, and the other smaller communities served by Star News Publishing. He sees the new position as an opportunity to restore the longstanding community publications to their former glory.
“I’d like to make the papers relevant again,” he said. “The previous owners, previous to Roger Holmes, were a big corporation, and they had no holdings in Saskatchewan except for a few papers. I think the papers were a bit of an afterthought. So we want to bring the papers back to the forefront.”
That work can’t be done without the help of the readership.
“We need our readers to tell us what’s relevant to them and what they’d like to see in the paper,” he said.
But like any business, that relationship is a two-way street.
“Like any other business, we’ll give back, and we’ve got to be supportive.”
And like any other business, the industry has its challenges at times. But unlike other jobs, the results of the work to overcome those challenges can be seen every day. Sometimes mistakes happen. But those times merely provide a chance to grow.
“You learn to become humble pretty quickly,” Brewerton said. “You can work away in most jobs and never see the result of your hard work, whereas every day, we’re blessed to have hard copy proof of the work we did the day before.”
Brewerton can be found in his P.A. office most Mondays through Wednesdays. You can also drop him a line at 306-765-1300.