Alas, sadly, there was to be none of the traditional kissing and hugging, and, perhaps, a soupçon of exotic cocktails, in the long-awaited breaking of the news of the winners list for the 41st Scottish Press Awards. The Scottish media folk's annual beano, celebrating the very best of national and local print and digital journalism in the country, was scheduled for 23 April at the four-star DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Glasgow Central but had to be postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, the organising body, the Scottish Newspaper Society (SNS), announced the winners, perhaps fittingly, by dint of a media release. This year's judging panel comprised 37 folk, chosen from across Scottish media, politics and public affairs, who worked their way through a total of 29 awards categories.
However, without doubt, post-media release a celebratory glass or two were quaffed by the staffs of the Scottish Mail on Sunday
and the Scottish Daily Mail
on hearing the news – and with every justification. For the two Associated Newspaper titles dominate the awards list by winning six categories and being runners-up in four.
The Scottish Mail on Sunday
) staff had most cause for celebration as Scotland's newly-crowned Newspaper of the Year and also earning the Journalism Team of the Year award for articles exposing the health crisis at Glasgow's Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. The triumphant SMOS
team comprised Georgia Edkins, Ashlie McAnally, Patricia Kane and Gareth Rose. The Sunday Mail
was runner-up with 'Justice for Allan Marshall', which was to earn its investigative reporter, Norman Silvester, two top awards.
Chair of the judges, Denise West, the former DC Thomson Media chief commercial officer and former Trinity Mirror
(North) managing director, enthused: 'The Mail on Sunday's
investigation into fatal flaws at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital was exemplary public service journalism, and the repercussions are being felt right now in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic,' and added pointedly: 'The investigation is evidence of the Mail's
continued investment in its Scottish operation which produces a strong package, very distinct from the English edition, and a sales performance well above industry averages'. On the SMOS team's endeavours, the judges commented: 'A team that never missed an angle, relentlessly pursued the story and hit its targets... a memorable team effort on a public interest story'.
The Sunday newspaper's Georgia Edkins was also named top young journalist of the year while Gary Keown was runner-up in the sports columnist category to Michael Grant, of The Times
. However, Gary won the top sports feature writer award for his work with the Scottish Daily Mail
Staff on the daily newspaper triumphed in three categories. Emma Cowing is top interviewer of the year, as well as runner-up in the columnist category to Melanie Reid, of The Times
. Stephen McGowan, described by the judges as a 'hugely versatile writer' who takes sport 'from the back pages to the front', won the sports news writer title to join Gary Keown in a formidable sports writing awards team, further bolstered by Hugh Macdonald as runner-up the sports feature section. Gavin Madeley was runner-up in the feature writer category to Dani Garravelli, of The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday
The editor of the Mail's
two Scottish titles, Andrew Harries, said: 'I am delighted that our talented journalists have won so many awards. And I'd like to pay tribute to our readers, who, even in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, are continuing to buy tens of thousands of copies of their favourite newspapers each and every day. Their support for the important work carried out by our journalists is vital – they share these successes with us'. These Scottish successes follow closely on the Daily Mail
and the Mail on Sunday
winning their respective newspaper of the year categories in the British Press Awards.
Deservedly Journalist of the Year, with a career spanning more than 40 years, is Norman Silvester, the Sunday Mail's
investigative journalism specialist, who notched up a triple success by also winning the reporter of the year award for his expose on the death of prisoner Allan Marshall in Saughton Prison in Edinburgh, and he finished runner-up to Tom Brown, of the Scottish Sun
, in the Scoop of the Year category. Judge, and former Scottish Sun
and Daily Record
editor, Bruce Waddell, declared that Norman's exclusive 'had an impact that reverberated throughout the corridors of power and justice – as well as newsrooms – with political ramifications that are still rumbling on'.
Edinburgh-based Scottish Sun
reporter, Tom Brown, earned his scoop award for his exclusive on Chief Superintendent Gareth Blair, Police Scotland's top man in Edinburgh, being caught in an allegedly compromising situation in a car with a lady who was not his wife. Blair subsequently resigned and court proceedings are imminent on charges of public indecency. The Scottish Sun
also won the Front Page of The Year category for its entry, 'To insanity and Beyond', with the Daily Record
as runner-up with 'Decriminalise Drug Use'.
The winner of the local/weekly top newspaper award went to the Fife Free Press
with the Falkirk Herald
in runner-up spot. On the winning entry, the judges commented: 'With some imaginative and eye-catching front pages, from the news section through to some brilliant sports pages, it's a paper which really reflects the community it serves because it informs the readers but stands up for them too'. The Lennox Herald
, part of the Reach plc group, won the local/weekly campaign award for its entry 'Lonely This Christmas'. The Greenock Telegraph's
David Goodwin is the local/weekly reporter of the year and the feature writer award in this category went to Jack Haugh, of Newquest's weekly title, The Gazette
, which covers the Renfrewshire beat. Jack is now on the staff of the Glasgow Times
In her general remarks Denise West commented: 'The judges were thoroughly impressed by the high quality of all the final entries' and continued, 'particularly the excellent stories published by the weekly newspapers, 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'.
The DC Thomson Media newspapers camp will be well satisfied with their performance. At one time, the Dundee publishing giant shunned such newspaper events, but now, firmly in the fold, the Sunday Post
emerged the top campaigning newspaper for 'Our Wullie’s Big Bucket Trail', and its stablemate, The Courier
, is Digital Team of the Year for its 'Shaped by a River: Tales of the Tay' series. The Headline of the Year award was won by the Evening Telegraph
with the simply splendid 'Everybody was flung poo fighting'. Runner-up spots went to the Sunday Post's
political editor, Mark Aitken, in the political journalist category, won by Paul Hutcheon, of the Daily Record
, and Mark's colleague, Megan McEachern, in the video of the year section, won by Craig Sinclair, of the Edinburgh Evening News
. Also featuring in runner-up spots are Dale Haslam, of Aberdeen's Evening Express
in the local/weekly reporter section and his colleague, Callum Law, in the local/weekly sports writer category; and Ellie House, of the Press and Journal
) in the local/weekly feature writer category.
The Sunday Post's
iconic schoolboy, Oor Wullie, hit the streets in 2019 with the country’s first nationwide art trail when hundreds of individually designed Wullies brought colour and fun to Scotland's summer before being auctioned to raise £1.3m for charities supporting our children’s hospitals. The judges commented: 'Campaigning journalism is alive and well. The winner had to be something really special in view of the strength of the field and the Sunday Post's
Bucket Trail was really special. A brilliantly devised and executed campaign'. And there were congratulations from Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, who pointed out: 'The funds raised have been for a hugely important cause – the way that people across the country responded and the fantastic amount of money raised simply underlines how Wullie remains one of Scotland's most iconic and best-loved characters'.
Ironically, these successes have come just when the Dundee publisher regretfully announced The Weekly News
will cease publication on 27 May after 165 years in business due to declining sales and revenues. At its peak in the 1960s and 1970s, it sold nearly 1.5 million copies each week.
notched a hat-trick of top awards. In addition to the successes of Melanie Reid and Michael Grant, Greig Cameron lifted the financial/business journalist award. And Marc Horne was runner-up in the reporter of the year category in which two Daily Record
journalists, Marcello Mega, and Sally Hind, earned a special mention. The Nicola Barry Award, in honour of campaigning journalism by women, and which is sponsored by Women in Journalism Scotland, was won by Gina Davidson, of The Scotsman
, with freelance journalist, Sandra Dick, finishing runner-up. The photographic awards proved a clean sweep for Getty Images with Jeff Mitchell coming out tops in the news photographer category and his colleague Ian MacNicol snapping up the sports photographer award.
The UK's longest-serving editor, Ian McCormack, who edited the West Highland Free Press
and oversaw more than 2,000 editions of the paper for 44 years before retiring in January, was honoured on his magnificent achievement by being the recipient of the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award. Paying tribute to Ian, SNS director John McLellan said: 'Forty-four years as editor of a single title is a truly remarkable achievement and one unlikely to be repeated any time soon. Under Ian, the West Highland Free Press
remained defiantly independent and true to its radical roots, providing a distinctive voice for the people of Skye and beyond'. Ironically, Ian's honour comes when the weekly has temporarily halted publication because of the coronavirus pandemic hitting sales and advertising.
Summing up on the current Scottish newspaper scene, SNS 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'.
The Scottish Press Awards are sponsored by DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Glasgow Central, the Royal Bank of Scotland, The Law Society of Scotland, Visit Scotland, Johnnie Walker, People's Postcode Lottery, SGN, Openreach, Events Consultants Scotland, Diageo, Amazon, People's Energy Company, the BIG Partnership and the Scottish Newspaper Society.
Here is the full list of winners and runner-ups:
Newspaper of the Year
Scottish Mail on Sunday
Journalist of the Year
Norman Silvester, Sunday Mail
Local/Weekly Newspaper of the Year
Fife Free Press
. RU: Falkirk Herald
Lifetime Achievement Award
Ian McCormack, formerly West Highland Free Press
Sports Photographer of the Year
Ian MacNicol, Getty Images. RU: James Gunn, Freelance
News Photographer of the Year
Jeff Mitchell, Getty Images. RU: Andrew Milligan, Press Association
Arts/Entertainment Journalist of the Year
Barry Didcock, The Herald/Herald on Sunday
. RU: Siobhan Synnot, Sunday Times Scotland
Young Journalist of the Year
Georgia Edkins, Scottish Mail on Sunday
. RU: Conor Matchett, Edinburgh Evening News
Interviewer of the Year
Emma Cowing, Scottish Daily Mail
. RU: Susan Swarbick, The Herald
Political Journalist of the Year
Paul Hutcheon, Daily Record
. RU: Mark Aitken, Sunday Post
Columnist of the Year
Melanie Reid, The Times
. RU: Emma Cowing, Scottish Daily Mail
Local/Weekly Sports Writer of the Year
Paul Thomson, East Kilbride News
. RU: Callum Law, Evening Express, Aberdeen
Sports Columnist of the Year
Michael Grant, The Times
. RU: Gary Keown, Scottish Mail on Sunday
Sports Feature Writer of the Year
Gary Keown, Scottish Daily Mail
. RU: Hugh Macdonald, Scottish Daily Mail
Sports News Writer of the Year
Stephen McGowan, Scottish Daily Mail
. RU: Stephen Stewart, Daily Record
Financial/Business Journalist of the Year
Greig Cameron, The Times
. RU: Alastair Dalton, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday
Local/Weekly Feature Writer of the Year
Jack Haugh, The Gazette
. RU: Ellie House, The Press and Journal
Feature Writer of the Year
Dani Garravelli, Scotland on Sunday/The Scotsman
. RU: Gavin Madeley, Scottish Daily Mail
Podcast of the Year
Gianni Marini, Democracy on your Doorstep
. RU: Morven McIntyre, Edinburgh Evening News
Video of the Year
Craig Sinclair, Edinburgh Evening News
. RU: Megan McEachern, Sunday Post
Scoop of the Year
Thomas Brown, Scottish Sun
. RU: Norman Silvester, Sunday Mail
Headline of the Year
, Dundee – 'Everybody was flung poo fighting'. RU: Daily Record
– 'Tonight I'm gonna party like it's 1959'.
Front Page of the Year
– 'To insanity and beyond'. RU: Daily Record
: 'Decriminalise drug use'.
Journalism Team of the Year
Scottish Mail on Sunday
– 'Queen Elizabeth Hospital'. RU: Sunday Mail
– 'Justice for Alan Marshall'.
Digital Team of the Year
, Dundee – 'Shaped by a river; tales of the Tay'. RU: Daily Record
– daily record.co.uk
Local/Weekly Campaign of the Year
– 'Lonely this Christmas'. RU: Dunfermline Press
– 'We need to talk'.
Campaign of the Year
– 'Oor Wullie's Big Bucket Trail'. RU: Daily Record
Local/Weekly Reporter of the Year
David Goodwin, Greenock Telegraph
. RU: Dale Haslam, Evening Express
Reporter of the Year
Norman Silvester, Sunday Mail
. RU: Marc Horne, The Times
The Nicola Barry Award
(Sponsored by Women in Journalism Scotland)
Gina Davidson, The Scotsman
. RU: Sandra Dick, Freelance