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Training pioneer whose career spanned eight decades dies at 96

Jim BrennanA journalism training pioneer whose career in regional papers began before World War Two broke out has died aged 96.

Jim Brennan, left, became the first full-time lecturer in journalism in the early days of the National Council for the Training of Journalists in the 1960s.

Jim was a lecturer at both Harlow College and London’s City University in a teaching career sandwiched by spells in the regional and national press.

His regional press career began and ended at the Derby Evening Telegraph, where he started out in 1939 before serving as a parachutist in the Second World War.

After being demobbed from the army in 1946 he returned to newspapers as a reporter in Fleet Street, working for The People, before going into journalism training.

But he would later return to the Telegraph to write a political column for 17 years, which ended in 2003

In an obituary for the Telegraph, Anton Rippon wrote: “Mr Brennan returned to hands-on journalism in 1970, as a sub-editor at The Guardian in Manchester, then worked on evening papers in Nottingham and Leeds, and as a BBC radio producer in the North-West before spending a year in Beijing, teaching young Chinese journalists how to report in an open society, if that day should ever come in the country.

Jim later ran a string of what he called “news-viewsletters” through the internet, with weekly titles such as the Derby Guardian and Derbyshire Guardian, with similar titles for Leicester, Lincoln and the East Midlands region.

Added Anton: “By then he was well into his 80s and embracing the internet with enthusiasm. He also created a newsletter aimed at octogenarians.”

Jim’s wife Mary, to whom he was married for 75 years, died in September 2014. The couple had two children, David and Jean, four grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren.

Jim died on 7 December, and his funeral will be held at Derby Crematorium at 11.20am on Friday 5 January.


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  • December 21, 2017 at 10:28 am

    Jim was also in charge of NCTJ training at Richmond College, Sheffield. I well remember his thorough, helpful and amusing guidance offered on two eight-week block release courses in 1966/67. From the tales he told, he must have also been a sub on the Times, in addition to the other papers mentioned in the HTFP report.

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  • December 21, 2017 at 11:54 am

    Takes me right back to the mid 1960s when I started in journalism and Jim was a lecturer at Harlow where I was sent for two eight-week courses to learn the basics in preparation for the NTC’s Proficiency Test.Good lecturer.

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