A WRITING award has been launched in memory of the Herald journalist and author Ian Bell, who died in December 2015

The National Union of Journalists Edinburgh Branch and Mr Bell’s family are offering a £500 prize for an unpublished piece of work in his critical style – taut, provocative but thoughtful – which is suitable for online and newspaper publication.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. Pieces should be between 1,500-2,000 words long.

Sean Bell, Ian’s son and also 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.

Entries, together with name, date of birth and place of work/study (if any), should be emailed to hilaryhorrocks@btinternet.com by 30 November 2017.

Articles will be judged by Iain Macwhirter, author and political commentator, The Herald and The Sunday Herald; Melanie Reid, writer and columnist, The Times; and Michael Gray, former reporter for CommonSpace. The winner will be announced in early February.