Journalists at The Scotsman, Edinburgh Evening News and Fife Free Press scoop top prizes at Scottish Press Awards

Journalists working for The Scotsman, Edinburgh Evening News and Fife Free Press have scooped top prizes at this year’s Scottish Press Awards.

Journalists working for The Scotsman and Edinburgh Evening News won top awards at the Scottish Press Awards.

Three journalists writing and producing for JPI Media titles won awards and another three narrowly missed out and took runners up spots, while two of the company’s weekly titles grabbed the top two places in the Local/Weekly Newspaper of the Year category.

The Scottish Press Awards went ahead this year despite the current Covid-19 lockdown measures meaning the usual awards ceremony could not take place.

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The 41st Scottish Press Awards is sponsored by Royal Bank of Scotland, The Law Society Scotland, VisitScotland, People’s Postcode Lottery, SGN, Openreach, Diageo, Amazon, People’s Energy and BIG Partnership.

JPI Media winners and runners up

Feature Writer of the Year went to Dani Garavelli for her work in The Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday. Judges said she showed great range in her writing, “moving between the highly personal to the extremely well researched with great skill.”

Craig Sinclair scooped best Video of the Year for his work in The Edinburgh Evening News. Judges said he demonstrated “exceptional production values” and focussed on a specific subject which touched the lives of many in the target audience area and told a story “at every twist and bend with passion and authority.”

The Nicola Barry Award, introduced in 2018 in honour of the late award-winning columnist and feature writer, went to Gina Davidson at The Scotsman for her work on the sensitive topic of domestic abuse, which judges said she showed “in a new light” and felt she “triumphed” for her work.

The Fife Free Press won the Local/Weekly newspaper of the year category. Judges said the team managed to produce some “imaginative and eye-catching” front pages and, from news through to sport, managed to reflect the community it serves by informing the readers and standing up for them too.

The Falkirk Herald took the runners up spot in the Local/Weekly newspaper of the year category.

Other journalists narrowly missing out included Conor Matchett at the Edinburgh Evening News in the Young Journalist of the Year category.

Alastair Dalton was also named runner up in the Financial/Business Journalist of the Year section for this work in The Scotsman.

And Morven McIntyre took second spot in the Podcast of the Year category for her work in the Edinburgh Evening News.

Frank O'Donnell, Editorial Director of Scotsman Publications, said: "I am immensely proud that yet again our titles have featured strongly in the Scottish Press Awards.

“Against fierce competition - and in an incredibly challenging business environment - our journalists have demonstrated their creativity, diligence and tenacity.

"These awards are a tribute not only to the individuals, but to the news desks, picture desk, production staff and other editors who make that copy work so well in print and digital."

This year’s judging panel comprised 37 independent judges from across Scottish media, politics and public affairs, including veteran news presenter Jackie Bird, former Scottish Conservative leader and ex-journalist Ruth Davidson, Lib Dem MP and former Press Association Scotland editor Christine Jardine and BBC investigators Sam Poling and Lucy Adams.

Chair of judges Denise West, former chief commercial officer at DC Thomson Media and Trinity Mirror (North) managing director, said: “The judges were thoroughly impressed by the high quality of all the final entries, particularly the excellent stories published by the weekly papers, and this is a timely reminder of what communities will lose if independent local news publishing collapses during the Covid-19 lockdown, so it’s essential that the Scottish and UK governments step in to mitigate the disappearance of advertising and lost sales.”

Scottish Newspaper Society director, John McLellan, said: "The awards show how important news publishing is to Scotland, locally or nationally; recognising and celebrating the good, exposing the bad, recording achievement for posterity, reflecting life in our communities, linking people and businesses. Without the steady source of trusted information our journalists provide, little of this would be possible.

"Be it on mobile, laptop, desktop or print, our titles reach more people than ever before, and much more quickly; the role Scottish journalists play was vital before, is vital now in the midst of the greatest crisis anyone has ever experienced, and will be even more vital in the recovery to come.”

Other winners

The Scottish Mail on Sunday scooped the prestigious Newspaper of the Year Award, alongside the Journalism Team of the Year accolade, for its investigation into the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital which revealed contamination in the new hospital caused the deaths of patients.

With a career spanning more than 40 years, Norman Silvester, news reporter and investigative journalist at the Sunday Mail, was awarded both the Reporter of the Year Award and the coveted Journalist at the Year Award for his shocking expose of the death of prisoner Allan Marshall at Saughton Prison.

The Sunday Post also scooped the Campaign of the Year category with its ‘Oor Wullie’s Big Bucket Trail’.

Ian McCormack, the editor of the West Highland Free Press who recently retired after 44 years in the post and oversaw over 2,000 editions of the paper, received the prestigious Lifetime Achievement award.