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New award launched in memory of ‘Scotland’s finest journalist’

Ian BellA new award for young writers has been launched in memory of a man dubbed “Scotland’s finest journalist”.

The Edinburgh branch of the National Union of Journalists have announced the new award, which is being run with the backing of Ian Bell’s family.

Ian, left, who died in December 2015 aged 59, worked for all of Scotland’s major titles during the course of his career along with several national newspapers.

The Ian Bell New Writing Award will be open to people aged 30 or under at 30 November 2017, and be living, working or studying in Scotland.

A Facebook page set up for the award states: “Submissions should be as yet unpublished. They should be in the critical spirit of Ian Bell and written in a style – taut, provocative but thoughtful – suitable for online and newspaper publication.

“The subject can be drawn from politics, culture, modern society, history, international affairs, Scotland, or related topics, and can be investigative reporting or informed commentary. Each entrant may submit up to two entries, each of between 1,500 and 2,000 words.”

Entrants should submit entries by email, together with their name, date of birth and place of work/study (if any), to hilaryhorrocks@btinternet.com by 30 November 2017.

The judges will be Iain Macwhirter, author and political commentator for The Herald and Sunday Herald, Melanie Reid, writer and columnist for The Times, and Michael Gray, former reporter for CommonSpace.

The winner will be announced in early February, and will receive a prize of £500 and publication in Scottish Review of Books.

Ian’s son Sean, himself a journalist, said: “My father’s career in journalism began in the 1970s, an often romanticised period, but still one that offered opportunities and avenues into the business which have steadily been closed off as the decades have passed, with ruinous consequences for modern journalism.

“Today, young journalists – in Scotland and around the world – have little hope for steady employment, job security or even a living wage. It is my hope that this new award will help advance the careers of a few out of many deserving talents who might otherwise go unappreciated.

“Journalists, when given the chance to do what they are meant to do, are vital to the social, political and philosophical health of the nation, and we have ignored their plight for far too long. My father’s legacy stands on its own, but there are too many who still need help building theirs.”

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