Small proves beautiful at Highland Media Awards

A NEWSPAPER office in Elgin – comprising one young journalist and another on maternity leave – swept all before it at the Highlands and Islands Media Awards last night, taking three of the top prizes on offer.

The office – part of The Press and Journal – took the Young Journalist, Reporter and Journalist of the Year prizes at the awards, held as part of the Highlands and Islands Press Ball.

However, the winner of the Reporter and (overall) Journalist of the Year titles, Donna MacAllister, was unable to attend because her two month-old daughter was feeling unwell.

Her prizes were collected by Young Reporter of the Year, Kaye Nicholson, who works in the office on her own, along with a photographer.

Three times she appeared on stage to collect the prizes from guest of honour, Scottish Government cabinet secretary for rural affairs and environment, Richard Lochhead MSP.

Last year, for an entirely different story, MacAllister won the Scoop of the Year prize at the Scottish Press Awards, for a story about an ambulance driver who refused to take a 999 call while on a tea break. The story that won her last night’s award was about a woman who had been frequently misdiagnosed with a frozen shoulder and who was to die alone in a hospital toilet from cancer.

For Keith MacKenzie, of the West Highland Free Press and winner of the Feature Writer prize, it was his fifth title at the awards. He won both the Reporter and Journalist of the Year four years ago, and was named Sportswriter of the Year in 2009 and also 2010.

As is traditional, the Press Ball was being held at the Newton Hotel, in Nairn. And as is also traditional, the masters of ceremony were John Ross and Gordon Fyfe, the latter PR manager at Highland Council.

Many tributes were paid to Ross, on his recent departure as The Scotsman’s Highland correspondent, including by his namesake from The Herald, David Ross. John Ross has taken up a position at a local PR agency, Lucid, and the occasion was used to reflect on how, on arriving in Inverness from Aberdeen – then working for the P&J and some 23 years ago – he revived the Press Ball following several years in abeyance.

The event was also an opportunity to praise a figure described routinely as a “legend”, the BBC Scotland journalist, Iain MacDonald, who received the lifetime achievement, Barron Tropy, for services to journalism in the region.

But an impressive acceptance speech declined to shed any more light on a famous instance reporting – live on radio – from the Royal National Mod, in Oban, when the airwaves fell silent.

The winners were:

Bord Na Gaidhlig Award for Best Gaelic entry

Winner: Moray Firth Radio

Nominated: Andreas Wolff, freelance

Best Use of Digital Media

Winner: Breaking News North

Nominated: North of Scotland Newspapers

Nominated: Moray Firth Radio

Photographer of the Year

Winner: Callum Mackay, Scottish Provincial Press

Nominated: Eric Cormack, Northern Scot

Nominated: Gary Anthony, Scottish Provincial Press

Top Shot of the Year

Winner: Trevor Martin, freelance

Nominated: Eric Cormack, Northern Scot

Nominated: Callum Mackay, Scottish Provincial Press

Young Journalist of the Year and the Alex Main Trophy

Winner: Kaye Nicholson, Press and Journal

Nominated: Cheryl Livingstone, Press and Journal

Nominated: Alan Shields, John O’Groats Journal

Sportswriter of the Year

Winner: Andy Dixon, Inverness Courier

Nominated: Chris Saunderson, Northern Scot

Nominated: Craig Taylor, The Orcadian

Reporter of the Year and the Jim Love Memorial Trophy

Winner: Donna MacAllister, Press and Journal

Nominated: Moira Kerr, freelance

Nominated: Jenna McCulloch, Highland News

Top Story of the Year

Winner: Moira Kerr, freelance

Nominnated: Claire Doughty, Highland News

Nominated: Annie Delin, Isles FM

Feature Writer of the Year

Winner: Keith Mackenzie, West Highlands Free Press

Nominated: Helen Aird, Inverness Courier

Nominated: Sara Rollo, Northern Scot

Community Newspaper of the Year

Winner: Rudhach, Isle of Lewis

Newspaper of the Year

Winner: Highland News

Nominated: West Highland Free Press

Nominated: Strathspey and Badenoch Herald

The Classic Malts Journalist of the Year

Winner: Donna MacAllister