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  7. Press & Journal lifts Newspaper of the Year prize
P&J editor Frank O'Donnell (centre) receives the Newspaper of the Year award from SPA judges' chair Denise West and SNS director John McLellan

The Press and Journal has been named Newspaper of the Year Award at the Scottish Press Awards for consistently delivering relevant, quality content whilst radically shaking up its newsroom.

“In another year of pressure for independent news publishing, The Press and Journal was ambitious in tackling the challenges head on, radically shaking up the way its newsroom operated, and strengthening the relevance and quality of its editorial content,” said Chair of Judges, Denise West.

Afterwards, Press & Journal editor Frank O’Donnell thanked his staff, and said they were thrilled to achieve such recognition. “It’s very important for people to receive recognition for the hard work they put in, and these awards really matter,” he said.

At the ceremony in September to recognise Scotland’s best journalism of 2021, the P&J’s sister title The Sunday Post was unanimously chosen as the Sunday Newspaper of the Year prize for its hard-hitting exclusives and impactful reporting.

“The Sunday Post has continued to evolve in both tone and content whilst remaining ever true to its original roots as a family newspaper. Every week the title delivers a formidable package of hard-hitting exclusives, campaigning vigour, engaging features and confident news coverage,” said Denise, who was formerly Managing Director of Scottish Daily Record and Sunday Mail Ltd, and Chief Commercial Officer of DC Thomson Media.

It was also a triumphant evening for Heather Dewar, who won the coveted Journalist of the Year and Sports News Writer of the Year categories for a series of powerful investigations in the Scottish Daily Mail, including the Cricket Scotland racism scandal,  She also secured runner up in the Sports Feature Writer of the Year, Interviewer of the Year and Nicola Barry award categories.

“Heather Dewar was the unanimous choice for the judges who praised her sensitive, probing, and powerful writing,” said Denise. “They were impressed too by her compelling reporting style and the engaging ‘integrity’ of her interviews. A truly worthy winner of this year’s Journalist of the Year Award.”

Other big winners include Marion Scott at The Sunday Post, who was named Reporter of the Year and won the Nicola Barry Award, while Annie Brown at the Daily Record was awarded Scoop of the Year for her story about Health Secretary Humza Yousaf’s allegations against a Dundee nursery school.

The Ayrshire Post was named the Weekly Newspaper of the Year, chosen by a panel of Scottish daily newspaper editors, for its strong campaigning instinct and unique content.

A total of 33 awards crediting the vital work of print and digital journalism were announced, with The Sunday Mail scooping the Campaign of the Year title for its important series on Anne’s Law.

Hannah Rodger was named Political Journalist of the Year for her work at The Herald, while The Wishaw Press won Front Page of the Year.

With a career spanning more than 40 years, Norman Silvester, a previous Reporter of the Year winner, received the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Scottish Daily Mail won the final prize of the night – The Chairperson’s Award – to reflect the title’s continued strong journalism and performance on the newsstands.

Denise added: “This year’s recipient of the Chairperson’s Award, The Scottish Daily Mail, is a newspaper that continues to demonstrate its belief that strong journalism, whatever the platform, and a strong team of journalists to deliver it, pays off.

“Not only is it rewarded by packing the shortlists at the Scottish Press Awards every year, but at the news-stands where its performance sets an example every day.”

Denise was joined by 36 independent judges – which comprised 21 women and 15 men – from across the Scottish media, communications and public affairs industries.

Former BBC Scotland newsreader Jackie Bird hosted the event at the DoubleTree by Hilton Glasgow Central.
The 43rd Scottish Press Awards were sponsored by Royal Bank of Scotland, Diageo, VisitScotland, SGN, Edrington, Openreach, Law Society of Scotland, Amazon, Glenmorangie, BIG Partnership, Women in Journalism Scotland, Beeline PR, DoubleTree by Hilton Glasgow Central.

Scottish Newspaper Society Director John McLellan said: “Because of the unpredictability, 2021 was in many ways as difficult as 2020, but the speed with which journalists and publishers adapted to pandemic conditions ensured they were in good shape to meet the challenges.

“The measures we took in conjunction with government action ensured that titles emerged relatively intact and able to continue serving readers with trusted, reliable news and information.

“Although the commercial landscape remains challenging to say the least, it is encouraging to see so many high-quality entries and the enthusiasm on display at our annual celebration is testament to the sector’s continued resilience.”