David Jones is chief foreign writer and features writer at the Daily Mail. He writes about his training and career below.
“I completed the one-year NCTJ pre-entry course at Preston Polytechnic, or University of Central Lancashire as it later became, in 1976, passing all the exams including 100 words per minute shorthand, newspaper law, public administration and newspaper practice.
“Looking back now, I really am glad that I took this route into journalism, for a several reasons. Firstly we were fortunate enough to be taught by some tremendous mentors – seasoned former national newspapermen whose enthusiasm for the craft was infectious. I am particularly indebted to my tutor, a former Telegraph sub-editor named John Hudson who made journalism seem so exciting and worthwhile, and who gave me the encouragement and self-belief I needed to launch a successful career.
“Secondly, when I began my first job, on my local paper the Morecambe Guardian, I felt ready to begin covering the daily staple of courts and council meetings, plus hard news and offbeat stories, immediately and without supervision. I even got my own music column, somewhat cheesily called Dave’s Disco-text!
“Another reason I look back so fondly at my time in Preston is that it was great fun and I made so many lasting friendships there – and met the woman I’ve been married to for 35 years on the NCTJ course!
“From Morecambe, I joined the Lancashire Evening Post (where I passed my Proficiency Certificate) before moving to the News of the World, where I rose to become deputy news editor whilst still in my 20s, then moving to New York as US correspondent for The Sun, and returning toToday newspaper as a feature writer, then news editor and assistant editor.
“For the past 16 years I’ve been writing features for the Daily Mail, where I double as chief foreign writer. Along the way I’ve been lucky enough to pick up a few honours, including Feature Writer of the Year in last year’s British Press Awards - and it’s all thanks to the start I received on the NCTJ course in Preston.”