While the regional press is not represented in any of the awards’ other 14 categories, the SJA says it has been “particularly gratifying” that the number of entries from “hard-pressed” local sports reporters had doubled since last year.
The nominees are CN Group’s Jon Colman, Mark Douglas, of Newcastle titles The Chronicle and The Journal, Doug Gillon, from Glasgow title The Herald, James Olley, of London’s Evening Standard, Chris Wathan, of Media Wales, ad The Northern Echo’s Scott Wilson.
The six nominees will receive a free ticket to next month’s awards dinner in London, courtesy of the SJA’s committee.
The dinner will be held at the city’s Grand Connaught Rooms on 23 March, hosted by Jim Rosenthal and SJA president Sir Michael Parkinson, who is due to step down after a decade in the position this year.
The awards also include specific accolades for cricket, football and rugby writing for the first time.
Tom Clarke, chairman of the judges, said: “Budgets are being trimmed, journalists, staff and freelance, are being off-loaded, deadlines are tighter, but the standard of British sports journalism is as good as ever – in some cases even better.
“The awards are growing in popularity and in prestige.
“We had a record 231 entries – every national newspaper title was represented – and there was strong support from regional newspapers, specialist journals, freelances and sports websites.”