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Journalist’s memoirs published 17 years after death

The career of a journalist who began working on a weekly newspaper before going on to work for titles across the globe has been brought to life in a new e-book.

John ‘Sammy’ Self started his career at the South London Press in 1942 and went on to work for the Western Daily Press and titles in South Africa and Pakistan, before going on to work for Reuters.

The story of his career was written by John after he retired to France but he died a month after completing it in 1996 and the manuscript was kept by one of his daughters, Susan Armes, for 17 years.

The e-book Journal of a Journalist, has now been published after Susan talked about it to an old school friend, Jo Mortimer, and her husband Paul Mortimer, the former editor of the Staffordshire Newsletter and Richmond & Twickenham Times.

The pair put her in touch with another friend, publisher Carol Lorimer, who decided that the book was worth taking on and it has now been published by Strawberry Pirate.

Said Paul: “When I came across the manuscript I realised that this a fascinating story on several levels.

“It gives a vivid account of the sort of journalism rarely seen these days as well as an insight into ‘the old’ way of doing things. On top of that John lived a remarkably adventurous life in south Africa, India and Pakistan.

“It is the account of a journalist who lived a colourful life and lived it to the full.”

John began his career with the South London Press at the age of 15 and the book captures the drama of working through the war years as a copy boy for the paper.

He later joined the Western Daily Press where he stayed until 1950 before being sacked for misreporting the Christmas turkey farming sales.

John then went on to have an interview in London with South African Morning Newspapers landing a job on the Rhodesia Herald, and going on to work for several other papers in Cape Town and Bulawayo.

In his memoirs, John tells of the difficulties of living and working in Cape Town during the height of apartheid and how he eventually decided to leave the country after one of his colleagues was brutally murdered by a mob.

He then went travelling and ended up in Pakistan as a sub editor on the daily Dawn newspaper in Karachi before landing a job with Reuters.

In later years, John was the editor of several magazines in London before finally retiring to France.

The e-book is available from publishers Strawberry Pirate.


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  • July 31, 2013 at 10:23 am

    I loved that bit about being sacked for misreporting the Christmas turkey farming sales. Should we not be told more?

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  • August 1, 2013 at 11:07 am

    This same John Self was married to my sister, and I gotta have a copy of his book – if only to get to the bottom of the Christmas turkey scandal.

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  • August 1, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    Paul, you won’t rest until you’ve read the book now.

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