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Reporter chalks up five decades at regional title

A journalist described as ‘inspirational’ by her editor is celebrating 50 years at the same Midlands newspaper.

Dianne Gibbons, 67, has worked at daily title The Sentinel in Staffordshire since the age of 17 and began her career in 1962.

Known as Di to colleagues she has described being a reporter as the ‘best job in the world’ and said when she first started at the newspaper which ambitions of being a journalist it was a male dominated profession so she had to start in the advertising department.

Her desire to be a journalist came following high profile court cases such as that of a woman who hammered her lover’s wife to death in 1963.

Later that year Di successfully applied for a copy typist position in the newsroom, and after moonlighting on night reporting jobs for a time, she was eventually taken on as an apprentice reporter.

For around 15 years she regularly covered Hanley Crown Court, and for the last five years has been The Sentinel’s main magistrates’ court reporter.

Mike Sassi, editor-in-chief of Staffordshire Sentinel News and Media, described Dianne as an ‘inspiration’ to her fellow journalists.

Said Mike: “I don’t think it’s any exaggeration to say that Dianne is the most popular person in the newsroom. Not only is she a respected journalist, she is also extremely generous with her time and knowledge.

“In an age when there were few opportunities for female professionals, Dianne was a real trailblazer. She’s now become a role model and an inspiration to journalists.”

Judge Simon Tonking first met Dianne when he started work as a barrister in 1976.

He said: “When I found out that Dianne had been in the business 50 years, I realised that I have known her for 35 of those years. My second-ever case was at Hanley, and when I came to court I quickly discovered that she was very good company.

“Dianne was always very reliable as a reporter. Her reports were accurate, without agenda or slant. I think we’re lucky in North Staffordshire in that the court reporting is so good.”