Three months ago, veteran journalist Paul Durrant, left, was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Here he reflects on a career beyond chasing deadlines and tells why good training is still as much part of the editorial kitbag as ever.
As a reporter, news editor and assistant editor of two regional morning and evening titles, I was involved in my fair share of the formative news stories that crossed many a busy newsdesk and shaped the nation over three decades or more.
They were great, rewarding days of buzz, adrenaline and teamwork – but I don’t need to tell that to anyone who’s been in the industry for more than ten minutes.
But I’ve had cause to think more recently about what became a second career for me after I took the King’s Shilling and retired early from the newspaper coalface four or five years ago.
I sort of drifted into journalism training and I can honestly say that those years have been more fulfilling to me professionally than the rest of it put together.
Until my cancer advanced, I’d been mentoring maybe 15 to 20 young reporters at the Eastern Daily Press and East Anglian Daily Times where editors Nigel Pickover and Terry Hunt recognised that there was little time in the hustle and bustle of the modern newsroom for hard pushed seniors to deliver feedback, run copy clinics and look after trainees’ NCTJ editorial logbooks.
These juniors could have seen me as an older duffer with little to offer in a multimedia world where counting the re-tweets and shooting the video so often seem a priority.
But from what they have said to me in a stream of unbelievable messages of support since my illness, they have appreciated my input.
I don’t believe those age old values have had their day, and I’m cheered to know that they don’t either.
My message to up-and-coming young journos is to never forget what you’re really there for, no matter what the platform.
You’re there to challenge, to champion, to campaign for your patch, to probe, to ask the awkward questions and put authority on the spot. Bloody noses? Bring it on.
So try to stay true to those principles whether you’re writing a splash or three par website taster.
And above all, don’t settle for second best.
If in the meantime they can write it with a bit of bounce and accessibility, so much the better.
It’s what journos do. And we’ll stay doing it long after I’m gone.