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