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Ode to Grenfell

I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him – Mark Antony

OUTSIDE the media, few people know or think much about the Guardian Media chairman, Grenfell Kissoon, and even those within the industry think little of him, but I’m hoping that, by my writing this honest appreciation, everyone will know him for what he is; few individuals encapsulate human choices, and their consequences for the soul, as starkly as Grenfell.

Since he began running the Ansa-McAl radio stations in 1994 – and instantly turned loss to profit, by slashing costs like Freddy Krueger slashes throats – Grenfell has stamped his authority all over the companies, and the people, under him.

Idealists – and, sadly, I’m one, but I’m learning realism pretty quickly nowadays – often delude themselves that newspapers are different from most businesses because readers choose a daily because of a heartfelt sense of connection: they trust us.

But Grenfell has always known a newspaper’s success is not based on its language, but its arithmetic: save a pile of money on rent – or on columnists’ wages – and you are on the way to profit. Grenfell changed the Trinidad Guardian, the oldest, most respected paper in Trinidad, in exactly the same way Rupert Murdoch changed the London Times, and won exactly the same powerful reaction from his readers and employees.

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