A JOURNALIST who still plays a role in bringing you the Lancashire Telegraph every day is celebrating 50 years in the industry.

John Walton began his career on July 27 1970 as a trainee reporter at the Burnley Express and has since worked for titles across the north of England in the following 50 years.

John, 69, works part-time for Newsquest sister dailies the Bolton News and Lancashire Telegraph, currently manning a laptop at his Burnley home with the coronavirus pandemic having temporarily closed the newspapers’ offices.

The Blackburn-based Telegraph was among the dailies for which John had previously worked during his career.

He said: “It’s strange to clock up 50 years, it just sort of crept up on me. Obviously walking into a newspaper office today, even if you could do at the moment, was totally different back in 1970 to now.

“Cigarette smoke, spikes, glue (in the subs’ room at least), typewriter noise etc. And when I joined the Telegraph in 1979 there was still a Saturday morning tradition of beer at the subs’ desk. Yes, pint bottles at 10am.

“However I think journalists are still the same as they ever were. I’ve worked with the occasional duffer over the years but the young reporters I’ve come across are largely hard-working, conscientious and out to do the best job often in difficult circumstances.

“I’ve had a lot of fun, made loads of wonderful friends and plenty of memories.”

Lancashire Telegraph:

John Walton interviews a coal miner in 1971 at the start of his long career

John trained at Preston’s Harris College, now part of the University of Central Lancashire, where he was a student on its first-ever NCTJ pre-entry course.

He joined the Express and spent nine years there before joining the Telegraph and its sister daily the Burnley Evening Star.

In 1986, John was appointed deputy features editor at the Bradford Telegraph & Argus, where he would go on to spend 29 years.

By the time of his retirement in 2015, John was part of the subbing pool producing papers for all of the Newsquest North East.

John said: “In and among the daily work I shifted on the Daily Mail and Daily Star when they had large Manchester offices, while enjoying three or four years doing Saturday sports shifts on the Sunday Sport.

“There I was handed my own byline of Big Jock Walton by sports editor Gordon Watt for my Scots edition match rewrites, and I frequently became the voice of former Liverpool star Tommy Smith for his ghosted match reports.”

Lancashire Telegraph audience and content editor Roger Airey said: “John’s had an amazing career so hats off to him. With his experience, he still plays an invaluable role in helping us produce the Telegraph and a whole host of other weekly titles.”

John and wife Bev celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary in September, while he also turns 70 in November.