24 June 2011
Chris Girdler - Publisher
Chris Girdler is editor and publisher of The Son newspaper, a tabloid which presents the good news in a popular newspaper format. He is also a partner of Cornerstone Vision, a Plymouth based publishing company with 14 monthly titles, seven of them tabloid newspapers for Anglican dioceses. In 1981 he was one of the founders of Paragon Communications, a London-based PR and publishing company which floated on the Stock Exchange in 1987. His life changed dramatically in 1990 when a ‘Damascus Road’ experience led to him giving his life to Christ. He and his wife Debbie have four children and two foster children.
As a child what did you want to be when you grew up?
A fireman (don't all boys?).
How did you get involved in publishing?
By chance. Having finished my A levels and in no hurry to go to university, my father 'persuaded' me to apply for a job as a trainee reporter on the local weekly newspaper in Berkshire. To my surprise I got the job and have never really looked back. My journalistic and publishing career spans more than 40 years and includes spells as sports editor, deputy editor and finally editor of a large weekly newspaper in Berkshire.
How does faith shape the vision and values of your publishing company?
Sadly, integrity and honesty are so often missing in much of the mainstream media, which has led to journalists in particular and the media in general getting a pretty low rating from society as a whole. As a Christian involved in the media I feel we have a responsibility to present facts as fairly and objectively as possible, providing a voice for the marginalised and forgotten of society.
What makes you happy?
Seeing Plymouth Argyle win a match (not much to smile about recently!).
What biblical story or text motivates you in your media work?
A Bible verse which has meant so much in my career as a journalist and business owner comes from Psalm 127:1: "Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labour in vain."
If you were Secretary of Culture and Media, what would your first policy be?
Not sure I would want the job in the first place, but I guess my priorities would be to introduce measures to make the BBC more accountable and to curb some of their excesses, both in terms of the way Christianity is portrayed and the lavish expenditure on presenters. I would also take positive steps to reinforce the watershed and, finally, I would ensure that ITV and BBC maintain their local news service, rather than downgrading to regional coverage (probably too late, but worth a try).
Who would you like to share a taxi with?
Assuming there would be room for three others: Nelson Mandela, Ann Widdecombe and Lee Evans.
Best story ever told?
Producing a testimony-based newspaper like The Son, I'm bound to say that there'll never be a better story than the good news of Jesus Christ. Before I became a Christian, listening to the personal testimony of 'ordinary' folk played a huge part in helping me to realise that Jesus is real and alive today. People love human interest stories and there is no better story than God's love for all humanity.
What is your dream for society?
That a day would come when all of society's inequalities and prejudices would be swept away by the love and grace of God.
What is your greatest extravagance?
Plymouth Argyle season ticket for myself and two sons.
Tell us a joke
Sorry, but I'm rubbish at remembering jokes - forget them as soon as I've been told. I prefer inspiring phrases and sayings, my favourite of which is "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got." That's helped me a lot in my personal and business life.