Ahead of its return to print the West Highland Free Press has moved to appoint a new editor.
Keith MacKenzie succeeds the long-serving Ian McCormack who, after 44 years in post, retired from the Skye-based weekly at the end of January.
In April the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic forced the West Highland Free Press to stop printing for the first time in its 48-year history.
Since then Keith and reporter Adam Gordon – aided by the paper’s regular columnists -–have continued to provide a free online edition.
Now the rest of the paper’s team are getting ready to head back to work, and the Free Press will hit the shelves again in the first week of August.
Keith will lead an editorial team made up of reporters Michael Russell and Adam Gordon alongside award-winning photographer Willie Urquhart.
Keith said: “I am delighted to have been given the opportunity to become WHFP editor. It is a privilege to succeed a figure like Ian McCormack, who has made such a sterling contribution to journalism and to the communities served by the WHFP.
“I would like to thank him and colleagues past and present for their support and encouragement over the years. I am grateful to the WHFP team for investing their faith in me to take on the editor’s role.
“There is no doubt that this is a challenging time for newspapers, but an accurate and informed local media, committed to holding power to account, is still a very valuable thing.
“It has been heartening to receive so many good wishes of support from the community and beyond during our absence from the shops.”
WHFP Managing Director Paul Wood said: “We are delighted to appoint Keith as editor of the West Highland Free Press. Keith is an award-winning journalist, highly regarded among his peers and colleagues.
“His in-depth knowledge of both his patch and what the Free Press means to Highland and Island life means the paper is in safe hands.”
The WHFP’s new editor has collected several awards for news, feature and sports writing since he joined the publication as a journalist in 2003.
Keith is the current Highlands and Islands reporter and journalist of the year.
A former pupil of Kyleakin Primary and Portree High School, Keith is a graduate of Glasgow University who has also worked for Royal Mail, Marine Harvest and for the Highlands and Islands Tourist Board.
Originally from Kyleakin he now lives in Sleat with his partner Mary and their two children.
Since the move online in April the WHFP’s website, www.whfp.com, has received close to 400,000 views.
The team now hope to transfer some of that interest into paper sales, e-mail and print subscriptions and to generate the advertising needed to sustain the employee-owned business, which also publishes The Visitor, the popular tourism guide for the West Highlands and Skye.
In the run up to the return to print on the 7th August the Free Press has launched an online survey in a bid to ask current, past and potential new readers for their thoughts on the newspaper.
The survey can be found here: https://www.whfp.com/2020/07/16/free-press-reader-survey-attracts-380-responses-in-opening-24-hours/