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Iain MacInnes, BBC Scotland’s Senior Journalist in the Highlands and Islands, has been named Diageo Journalist of the Year at the annual Highlands and Islands Media Awards.

Iain was the unanimous choice of the judges for the quality of his news gathering.

Iain’s prize for winning the top award is £500, which includes £300 to be gifted to a charity of his choice. He also won the Jim Love Memorial Trophy for being Reporter of the Year and the Highland Tourism Environment and Sustainability Reporter of the Year Award.

Iain is the son of renowned local journalist Donnie 'Gazette' Macinnes who sadly passed away in December 2023.  He is pictured with his father here.

New Judging Panel chair, Nicola McAlley, said: “Iain is a natural storyteller who constantly delivers confident, detailed and compelling reports on a broad range of subjects across the Highlands and Islands.  He has mastered the art of producing packages that get straight to the heart of the story and expertly backing that up by delivering a live on-air report to the studio.”

Iain said later on Facebook:"Really chuffed to have picked up a few awards last night at the Highlands and Islands Press Ball! Thanks for all the nice messages - lovely to be recognised by your peers. A lovely touch, too, that my Dad was remembered as part of the evening. Thanks to Nicola McAlley and John Ross and the team for all their efforts. The sponsors very kindly provide a cash prize which will be shared between Western Isles Cancer Care Initiative Crossroads Lewis and Highland Hospice."

Newspaper of the Year is the Shetland Times while The Ileach, Islay and Jura, which recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, won Community Newspaper of the Year,

A new award of Campaign of the Year was won by the Oban Times for its 'Invest in the West' campaign.

The Highland News and Media Group picked up four awards, including the new Website of the Year Award. Staff member Iona MacDonald was voted Young Journalist of the Year, receiving the Alex Main Trophy; while Ewan Malcolm was named Business Writer of the Year and Beth Taylor, Photographer of the Year.

Feature Writer of the Year is Stuart Findlay of The Press and Journal while Sports Writer of the Year was won by Eric Mackinnon, of the Stornoway Gazette, who picked up the new Bill McAllister Memorial Trophy, donated by Bill’s family.

For a third year running, Angus Peter Campbell of the West Highland Free Press won the Gaelic Writer of the Year Award.

Gordon Fyfe, who recently stood down as Chair of the Media Awards Judging Panel, received the Barron Trophy for lifelong achievement in journalism.

The awards were presented at the 35th annual edition of the Highlands and Islands Press Ball, the only event that brings together industry colleagues from across a huge and dispersed region.   Nearly 250 media representatives, politicians and heads of public and private organisations attended the event on Friday, February 2 at the Kingsmills Hotel, Inverness.   

The ball, and associated Highlands and Islands Media Awards, attracted journalists from Shetland to Argyll and from Moray to the Outer Hebrides serving print, broadcast and online media.   

Principal sponsor of the evening was Diageo, with additional support from Statkraft, Chivas Brothers, the National Union of Journalists, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Hub North Scotland, the Kane Partnership, Highland Tourism, Inverness Chamber of Commerce, DP Digital Media and Bord an Gàidhlig.  

The event will benefit four local charities - CHAS (Children’s Hospices Across Scotland; SIMBA which supports families who have suffered baby loss; Discovery College, which helps people gain a deeper understanding of wellbeing and mental health and the Journalists’ Charity, which supports journalists nationwide.

The ball has now raised nearly £120,000 for good causes, with all the money staying in the Highlands and Islands.    

Ball chairman John Ross said: “We are delighted the Press Ball continues to bring together colleagues from across the area where they are an essential part of local communities. 

“Our charity fundraising is also a vital part of the occasion and we are extremely pleased to be able to contribute in a small way to some fantastic local causes.”  

The full list of award winners is –

Environment and Sustainability (Highland Tourism Award)

Iain MacInnes, BBC

Business Writer of the Year (Inverness Chamber of Commerce)
Ewan Malcolm, Highland News and Media

Gaelic Writer of the Year (Bòrd na Gàidhlig Award)
Angus Peter Campbell, West Highland Free Press

Young Reporter of the Year (Alex Main Trophy)
Iona MacDonald, Inverness Courier

Sports Writer of the Year (Bill McAllister Memorial Trophy)
Eric Mackinnon, Stornoway Gazette

Photographer of the Year
Beth Taylor, Highland News and Media

Reporter of the Year (Jim Love Memorial Trophy)
Iain MacInnes, BBC

Feature Writer of the Year
Stuart Findlay, Press and Journal

Community Newspaper of the Year
The Ileach, Islay

Newspaper of the Year
Shetland Times

Web site of the Year
Inverness Courier

Campaign of the Year
Oban Times

Diageo Journalist of the Year
Iain MacInnes, BBC

Barron Trophy for Lifetime Achievement
Gordon Fyfe, Inverness

The comment from Iain has been added since this post was first published.