Big changes are taking place here at The Eagle. Former faculty advisor, Susan Polster, was promoted to department head of Journalism for all of Utah State University.
After decades working with The Eagle’s newspaper staff, she was unable to continue to serve as the faculty advisor for The Eagle. Del Jones, a former financial writer for USA Today, a Pulitzer Prize nominee for beat reporting, and author, has stepped in as the new faculty advisor of The Eagle.
Polster says The Eagle is in good hands. “Del brings a lifetime of writing and editing to The Eagle. His experience in professional journalism as a newspaper editor and book author brings incredible talent to the journalism and communication department. We are honored and excited to have him at Eastern,” she says.
Jones grew up in the Rocky Mountains and lived in Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico. He earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of New Mexico and began his career as a sports reporter at The San Angelo (Texas) Standard-Times. He worked at the Santa Fe New Mexican before moving to the El Paso Times. He decided he would prefer to work for a larger newspaper and went back to school and earned an MBA from Texas-El Paso, finishing his coursework at George Washington University.
In 1992, Jones moved to Washington D.C. and began working for USA Today as a financial reporter. He loved working for USA Today because it had a wide reach and a great reputation. When he contacted people asking for interviews, they were happy to share their experiences with him. He held many candid interviews with CEOs of major corporations.
Jones appreciated that USA Today worked hard to remain neutral in both politics and opinion. The newspaper did not endorse a presidential candidate until 2016 and required all opinion pieces to represent all sides of an issue.
During his career, the media industry transitioned from print to digital publication, a transition that caused a massive upheaval in the world of journalism. “When I began working at USA Today, everyone in my neighborhood got a newspaper. As I left for work in the mornings, I could hear newspapers thumping on all my neighbors’ driveways. By the time I retired, no more printed newspapers were being delivered,” he says.
Jones retired from USA Today in 2010. During his retirement, he wrote three books and travels around the world with his wife Dianna. Together they visited every continent except Africa. His favorite trips were a 10-day rafting trip down the Grand Canyon and a cruise to Antarctica.
Sadly, his father passed away in January of 2021. Jones and his wife decided to buy his father’s home in Spring Glen, Utah. “Our children Ciera and Doug have settled in the West. This is a good place for us to be close to them,” he says.
Jones had no plans to start a second career and was only looking for part time or volunteer work. This summer, an ad for a journalism professor at Eastern made its way into his Facebook feed. He sent a direct message and was hired by USU Eastern as a professor of journalism.
“I have family ties to this university. My father and brother earned undergraduate degrees and my son got a graduate degree in geology from USU,” he says.
This semester, Jones is serving as faculty advisor for The Eagle. “I enjoy working with the newspaper staff,” he says.
Next semester he will also teach news writing and media ethics. This is his first time teaching, but with 33 years of news writing and editing experience, USU journalism students have a valuable resource to help them learn to write high quality news articles.