Controversy caused by new press awards category

SOME of the country’s best-known feature writers face being excluded from entering the ‘Feature Writer of the Year’ category in the forthcoming Scottish Press Awards, because their work has appeared in the magazine of the newspapers they work for.

It follows the introduction of a new category: Magazine Writer of the Year.

But while the Sports Feature Writer of the Year category, plus that of the Sports News Writer, are open to entries that appear in either a newspaper or magazine, feature writers whose work appears in their newspaper’s magazine are being required to enter the Magazine Writer category, whether they like it or not.

In other words, it looks like The Herald’s Michael Tierney – winner of the Feature Writer of the Year title these last three years in a row – will no longer be able to compete, by virtue of his features appearing (not always) in his newspaper’s magazine.

Scotland on Sunday’s Catherine Deveney seems equally destined to be prevented from ‘defending’ her Arts and Entertainment Writer title, which she has won these last four years.

Says Jim Raeburn, director of the awards organisers, the Scottish Daily Newspaper Society: “Following a review of the Scottish Press Awards, the SDNS editors’ committee agreed to add some new categories, including Magazine Writer of the Year.

“It was introduced taking into account concerns expressed by journalists and editors about the over-dominance of magazine features in the Feature Writer of the Year category. It is the case, therefore, that work appearing in a newspaper’s magazine cannot be entered in the Feature Writer’s category.”

He added: “I understand the concern being expressed but the aim of the various changes is to enhance the prestige of the Scottish Press Awards.”

Tierney was named Feature Writer of the Year at this year’s British Press Awards.