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July NQJ: Exam awards hat-trick for Gazette man

A Blackpool Gazette reporter has scooped three of the four awards available for performance in the July 2014 seniors’ exam.

Paul Berentzen, left, won the Ted Bottomley Award for media law and practice, the Esso Award for his news report, and the Society of Editors’ Award for his news interview.

The National Council for the Training of Journalists hands out the awards for the best performance in each of the four sections of the National Qualification in Journalism.

Only the final final award, the Newsquest Award for the e-logbook, eluded Paul, being won by Essex Chronicle reporter Megan Tatum.

Chief examiner Steve Nelson congratulated Paul on his “outstanding success,” saying: “To be adjudged the nation’s best in one category is an achievement in itself. To do it in three sections is remarkable.”

The examiners said he produced excellent answers in the media law and practice paper with an almost perfect answer in the ethics question, while on his news report and news interview, the examiners praised his newsroom skills, mature style and logical questioning.

Said Paul: “I am absolutely delighted to have picked up these awards. The hard work has certainly paid off but I never thought I would do this well.

“I am extremely grateful for the support of colleagues past and present who helped prepare me for the exams.”

Jon Rhodes, editor of the Blackpool Gazette, added: “I am absolutely delighted all four of our trainees – Paul Berentzen, David Sharman, Katie Upton and Gareth Vickers – have passed their NQJs at the first attempt.

“All four of them have proved to be first-rate reporters who really get Blackpool and the Fylde coast and how to seek out and deliver hard-hitting, compelling and entertaining content.

“I always say to aspiring reporters in interviews there is no better place to learn than here in Blackpool. It is one of the most unique and lively news patches in the UK.

“I am also thrilled to learn Paul has won three of the four national awards as part of the NQJ process which is a fantastic achievement and unheard of in recent history.”