At a time when the media is being branded the ‘enemy of the people’, at least by one Twitter user, an event where journalistic achievement is not just recognised, but also celebrated, is much anticipated.
The Highlands and Islands Press Ball and Media Awards (HIPBMA) has many attributes. It is the only event that brings together under one roof such a diverse and dispersed industry. It allows writers, broadcasters, photographers and bloggers the opportunity to talk with colleagues and contacts they may not otherwise meet (where else can a freelance from Shetland discuss shared issues with a weekly reporter from Argyll? Or a blogger from the Hebrides chat about common subjects with a counterpart from Moray?
It gives journalists access to an unmatched an array of public and private sector leaders, PR managers and politicians at one time. And it’s just a great night out.
Technology continues to shrink the world and bring people together instantly, but it cannot yet allow them to shake hands, stand together at the bar or share a Strip the Willow.
The Press Ball can, and has been doing so for decades. While there was a Press Ball for many years before, the present incarnation has been bringing together industry colleagues from the far corners of the region since the event was revived in 1989.
The Highlands and Islands Press Ball passed two significant milestones in 2018. Firstly, it was staged for the 30th consecutive year, attracting some 260 people. And, secondly, this coincided with the amount raised for local charities reaching £100,000.
That figure is more remarkable when you consider all fundraising is done on the night, so effectively it has been achieved in the equivalent of two and a half days.
This year we will again be supporting four local charities - Birchwood Highland, Friends of Autism Highland, Dream, Believe, Achieve Highland and the Elsie Normington Foundation Haven Centre Appeal – all extremely worthwhile causes which we are proud to help in a small way.
The event is also a time to highlight some of the biggest stories of the year and honour those whose work has stood out. The Highlands and Islands Media Awards, which have been part of the Press Ball since 1992, is a chance to celebrate the individuals and outlets who play such an important role in their communities in gathering and interpreting the news.
HIPBMA 2019 will be organised for the eighth consecutive year by System2 and will be held at the Kingsmills Hotel in Inverness for the third year in a row. System2’s involvement is all-encompassing, from booking guests, arranging sponsorship and administering the awards, to organising video and photography, managing the event’s website and social media platforms and arranging the fundraising.
We couldn’t do it without the ongoing support of our media colleagues and supporters – primarily Diageo, as well as long-time sponsors Chivas Brothers, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the National Union of Journalists.
We are encouraged that the ball remains as popular as ever as we start the event’s fourth decade. We look forward to seeing you there on 1 February 2019.