John has a B.A. in English and Classical Civilisation from the University of Natal, a Higher Diploma in Education from the University of South Africa, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Anglo-Irish Literature from Trinity College, Dublin. He joined The Witness (then The Natal Witness) in 1981 and has been a sub-editor, columnist and leader writer. In 1994 he was awarded a Southern African fellowship to the Poynter Institute for Media Studies in St Petersburg, Florida. Later that year he was appointed Editor of The Witness, a position that he has held ever since, making him one of the longest-serving newspaper editors in South Africa. He has written articles for a variety of publications, and is the author of three novels (The Arrowing of the Cane, The Desecration of the Graves and The Lostness of Alice), the first two of which were published in a number of countries and translated into various languages, while the third was published only in South Africa.