Award to honour NCTJ trainer and journalist who inspired hundreds of reporters

An award-winning NCTJ trainer and journalist who has launched the careers of hundreds of young reporters is to be honoured with the naming of a new award.

Paul Durrant, former assistant editor of the Eastern Daily Press (EDP), has worked with the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) over many years and was the recipient of the NCTJ Chairman’s Award in 2014 for his outstanding contribution to journalism training and education.

The annual Paul Durrant Award for the best performance in the National Qualification in Journalism (NQJ) will be given to a newly-qualified journalist from the East of England. The NQJ is the senior qualification for trainee reporters.

Paul, 63, of Hellesdon near Norwich, has terminal cancer of the oesophagus.

He said: “It’s truly humbling to discover that my industry wants to mark my death in this way. The only condition is that it’s dropped once the next generation starts asking: Paul Who?

“I have passionately believed that proper training is the bedrock to good journalism, and that trying to uphold our values and standards - objectivity, legally and ethically - is what separates the real pros from the rest.

“Whatever the platform, we need to champion our communities and challenge authority. Training and gold standard industry qualifications give us all the confidence to do that, and hopefully go some way to restoring the public’s faith and trust in believing that real journalism matters.”

The winner will receive £250 and a certificate of achievement, and the award is sponsored by Archant, publishers of the Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News.

Joanne Butcher, NCTJ chief executive, said: “The NCTJ is delighted Archant is to sponsor a new award in Paul Durrant’s honour. As Paul is so closely involved in the NQJ and his heartland is the East of England, this is the perfect award to be established in his name. Paul’s news judgement, legal and ethical knowledge and all-round journalistic ability have made him a first-class trainer and examiner and someone who has inspired so many young journalists to achieve their very best.”

Nigel Pickover, EDP editor-in-chief, said: “Paul has been the foundation stone of many great careers in journalism and this accolade from the NCTJ, sponsored by the EDP, is wholly deserved and a joy to be part of.

“Paul’s wisdom and knowledge has helped shape careers in both his newsdesk roles and, later, as an accomplished trainer.

“On top of that he is one of life’s good guys and I’m so thrilled to help found this honour in my tenure as editor.”

Paul has been a journalist for more than 40 years working in the regional press in East Anglia, as news editor at the Ipswish-based East Anglian Daily Times and Evening Star and since the mid-80s in various newsdesk roles for the Norwich Eastern Daily Press and Evening News.   

He has been closely involved with the NCTJ as a member of its journalism examinations board, as a marker for NQJ exams and running NQJ refresher courses for candidates throughout the country.

In his own words: Paul Durrant on why training matters

Picture: Denise Bradley, courtesy of Archant