THE Herald's Economics Editor Alf Young yesterday received the top award in Scottish journalism.

He was voted Journalist of the Year in the 1996 Bank of Scotland Press Awards by a seven-strong panel chaired by Lord McCluskey.

Praising the Herald writer, the judge said: ``Alf Young is trusted and respected. His views are independent and consistently challenging. They cover a wide range of subjects and issues and whenever he is read he is taken seriously.''

It was a double celebration for the Herald writer, who also won the Financial/Business Writer of the Year award for the fourth successive year.

Herald journalists dominated the awards, scooping six categories and a further four commendations, fighting off stiff competition in a record field of 365 entries.

A special lifetime achievement award was presented to veteran journalist, Mr Jim Rodger, 74, of Shotts, Lanarkshire, in recognition of a distinguished career as a sports reporter spanning more than 40 years and his charity work through the Glasgow and West of Scotland branch of the Newspaper Press Fund.

The full list of winners is: Journalist of the Year - Alf Young, The Herald.

The judges said: ``This journalist is trusted and respected, his views are independent and consistently challenging, they cover a wide range of subjects and issues and wherever he is read he is taken seriously.''

Columnist of the Year - Winner, Jack Webster, The Herald; Commended, Colette Douglas-Home, Scottish Daily Mail, Jimmy Reid, The Herald, and Bill Leckie, Daily Record.

Judges said: ``The winner of this award writes a column which is both unique and personal. He is a craftsman with words and worthy of the title Wordsmith Supreme.''

Critic/Reviewer of the Year - Winner, Michael Tumelty, The Herald; Commended, Ajay Close and Joyce McMillan, both Scotland on Sunday.

The judges commented: ``The work of this journalist is clear and sharp. He is very economical with his words yet also extremely entertaining.''

Financial/Business Writer of the Year - Winner, Alf Young, The Herald; Commended, Simon Bain, Scotland on Sunday and Waleed El-Gabri, Aberdeen Press & Journal.

The judges said: ``The winner of this award has both authority and the ability to make business writing available to a wider audience. His thoughtful, analytical, and independent mind enables the reader to be conscious of the wider dimensions of economic and business stories.''

Specialist Writer of the Year - Winner, Jill Crawshaw, The Herald; Commended, Angus MacLeod, Sunday Mail and Denis Campbell, Scotland on Sunday.

Judges said of the winner: ``The winner of this award wrote one of the most talked-about series of articles in 1995. Her stories on the standard of services in the Scottish tourism industry were among the most talked-about of the year, which evoked and continue to evoke ongoing comment and response.''

Anthony Finlay Award for the Young Journalist of the Year - Winner, Stephen McGinty, The Herald; Commended, Lesley Roberts, Evening Times and Jason Allardyce, the Scotsman.

The judges commented: ``The winner of this category evoked extremely powerful visions of human suffering and injustice in informing and gripping pieces.''

Reporter of the Year - Winner, Andrew Gold, Sunday Mail; Commended, Ron MacKenna and Barclay McBain, The Herald and Carlos Alba, Edinburgh Evening News.

Feature Writer of the Year - Winner, Gillian Glover, the Scotsman; Commended, Margaret Morrison, Scottish Daily Mail and John Macleod, The Herald.

Campaigning Writer of the Year - Winners, Mike Hildrey and Jim McLean, Evening Times; Commended, Nic Outterside, the Scotsman and James McGhee, Edinburgh Evening News.

Arts/Entertainment Writer of the Year - Winner, Andy Dougan, Evening Times; Commended, David Belcher, The Herald and Tom Lappin, the Scotsman.

Weekly Newspaper Journalist of the Year - Winner, Olivia Bell, Highland News; Commended, Alex Hogg, The Advertiser (Midlothian) and Ahrlene Ferguson, Rutherglen Reformer.

Sports Journalist of the Year - Winner, Graham Spiers, Scotland on Sunday; Commended, Graham Hunter, Scottish Daily Mail and Mike Aitken, the Scotsman.

The David Boyle (Erskine Hospital) Memorial Award - Winner, Sue Leonard, Scotland on Sunday; Commended, Bryan Christie, the Scotsman, Malcolm Reid, Evening Times.

Gaelic Category, Sgriobhadh Gaidhlig - Winner, John Morrison, West Highland Free Press; Commended, Hugh Dan MacLennan, Inverness Courier.

Bank of Scotland Special Award - Jim Rodger.