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Big Apple editor says there’s no place like Cramlington ...

Tony Metcalf hosting Sir Richard Branson in his New York newsroom on October 3. He was acting as their Guest Editor in Chief and he had to guide him through the day. The other people in the picture are his American staff.
The young guy sitting on Sir Richard's right is a Metro reader from Bogota, Colombia, who won a reader competition to meet Sir Richard.

Tony Metcalf hosting Sir Richard Branson in his New York newsroom on October 3. He was acting as their Guest Editor in Chief and he had to guide him through the day. The other people in the picture are his American staff. The young guy sitting on Sir Richard's right is a Metro reader from Bogota, Colombia, who won a reader competition to meet Sir Richard.

  • by By Kristy Dawson
 

Growing up in Cramlington, Tony never dreamed of having such an eventful career that has taken him from Dubai to South Korea and now the Big Apple.

Tony is currently Editor in Chief of the Metro newspaper titles in New York, Philadelphia and Boston.

Circulation stands at 640,000 copies, in total, each weekday and Metro is the 4th biggest circulated newspaper in the USA.

He has an apartment in Battery Park, in the financial district of New York City, within 5 minutes’ walk of Ground Zero and Wall Street. He can see the Statue of Liberty out of his bedroom window.

It’s a great success story for the 49-year-old journalist, who has covered everything from the death of Diana to the night the Americans shot Osama bin laden.

On his agenda each day are the big news stories.

“We deal in really big American and international stories every day and we get to meet all kinds of famous and interesting people all the time. Sir Richard Branson was a good example - he was great fun. Lady Gaga was late and a very different kettle of fish to Sir Richard.” said Tony.

His five-year stint in New York shows no signs of ending and this job is only of many on his impressive CV.

Since being headhunted by Swedish company, Metro International, Tony has launched more than 20 Metros – in cities including Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Copenhagen, Rome, Milan, Barcelona, Madrid, Montreal, Boston, Hong Kong and Seoul.

As Global Editor in Chief, Tony spent three years travelling the world, doing the job he loves.

And yet it is still Cramlington where Tony feels most at home.

“I’ve got a picture of Cramlington Village on my screensaver in the New York newsroom. I alternate it with a picture of Bamburgh Castle, something I’ve done in all of the many countries I’ve worked in.

“Cramlington and the North East are the bedrock of what I am and if ever I am in danger of getting too big for my boots - it happens - the thought of how the lads and lasses in the Village Club or the Shankhouse would react, soon pulls me back to reality.”

Having moved away from the North East to find work back in 1983, Tony ended up in Driffield, Yorkshire before moving to Scarborough and then Darlington as a reporter. He spent 17 years in the regional press before being given the job as editor in chief of the Newcastle Metro.

He was given just 12 hours’ notice before being sent off to Toronto, Canada where he launched a Metro within 4 days, using a hotel room as an office.

His travels for Metro have taken him to Buenos Aires, Santiago, Singapore, Zurich, Stockholm, New York, Philadelphia, Helsinki and Warsaw. Some visits last weeks, others lasted just a few hours.

Shortly after, in late 2003, he was invited to become editorial director for a paper called 7DAYS in Dubai, which was then a weekly title in English. He turned it daily and it very quickly became probably the most popular paper in the city.

His wife, Lesley, and two children, Alex and Freya, moved to Dubai with him and he admits he “had four pretty cool years there”. However he did run into conflict with the local authorities on a lot of occasions, even once landing himself in prison.

In 2006 the management company of 7DAYS was sold to Associated Newspapers, which publishes the Daily Mail, and he spent nine months in India looking at markets in Mumbai before being offered a short-term contract in New York. The rest is history..

If there is a down-side to the dad of two’s Stateside life it would be that Tony only gets to visit the UK and his family who are based in Darlington, every 2-3 months.

Tony explains: “The pull of ‘home’ is as strong as it’s ever been. My mother and my sister still live in Cramlington and I travel to see them every three months or so.

“I do miss living in Northumberland, but I also know that for the foreseeable future, my job will keep me overseas.
“I feel similar things about Darlington where my wife and children are from and where they still live,” he added.

Going back to his childhood in South Northumberland, Tony says the memories will never leave him.

“I remember the hours we spent in summer at Cramlington railway station chatting away to the bloke who sold tickets there - who was very tolerant of us - and watching the trains go by.

“We’d spent hours wandering around Nelson Village and the fields at the back of Parkside School.

“Cramlington is home for me, even though I left there 30 years ago. You can take the boy out of Crammy, but you can’t take Crammy out of the boy.”

 

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