Journalism Awards 2017 winners announced

25 awards presented at annual NewsBrands Ireland Journalism Awards sponsored by the National Lottery

Catherine Fegan of the Irish Daily Mail and The Irish Mail on Sunday has been crowned the NewsBrands Ireland Journalist of the Year for 2017.

The award caps a sensational year for Ms Fegan, who also won the 2017 Features (Popular) category for her reporting on stories including road safety in Donegal and budget cuts in the HSE. It is the first time the Irish Daily Mail has won the top prize in the annual Journalism Awards, held by NewsBrands Ireland in association with the National Lottery.

The 2017 Journalist of the Year was presented with her award by Vincent Crowley, Chairperson of NewsBrands Ireland, special guest Denis Naughton TD, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, and former Irish Farmer’s Journal editor Matt Dempsey, who chaired this year’s independent judging panel.

The overall award, said Mr Dempsey, went to a journalist who is “equally at home in rural Ireland, with loyalists in Portadown, with those who care for people with severe mental health issues, in Trump’s America, or with a notebook in a courtroom. [Catherine Fegan] knows that the gravest sin for a journalist is to make the important boring, and she brings to her writing rigour with the best of good storytelling”.

Unprecedented volume of entries

This year’s Journalism Awards – sponsored for the second year by the National Lottery – elicited a staggering response of some 1,400 individual entries – the biggest entry ever. To assess the work submitted, NewsBrands Ireland assembled a new independent judging panel comprising high-profile media figures from both inside and outside the newspaper industry.

In addition to the overall Journalist of the Year prize, a total of 25 category awards were presented at today’s ceremony including News, Sport, Business, Crime, Foreign Coverage, Investigative Journalism, Digital Excellence, Showbiz, Political Coverage, Young, and Regional Journalist of the Year.

According to Judging Panel Chairman Matt Dempsey, the jury was impressed with the overall quality of work submitted, in particular the role of journalism in exposing high-profile national scandals relating to Garda breath test data, charity organisation funding and the National Maternity Hospital.

The full list of 2017 winners are as follows:

Business Journalist of the Year

Jack Horgan-Jones, Sunday Business Post

Business Story of the Year

John Meagher, Irish Independent

Columnist (Broadsheet) 

Fintan O’Toole, The Irish Times

Columnist (Popular)

Lynda McCarthy, Sunday World

Crime Journalist

Michael O’Toole, Irish Daily Star

Crime Story

Michael O’Toole, Irish Daily Star  


Patrick Freyne, The Irish Times

Digital Excellence

The Irish Times Abroad, Ciara Kenny

Features (Broadsheet)

Conor Lally, The Irish Times

Features (Popular)

Catherine Fegan, Irish Daily Mail & The Irish Mail on Sunday

Foreign Coverage

Ruadhán Mac Cormaic, The Irish Times

Front page

Irish Daily Mirror ‘What Have They Done’


Irish Daily Star ‘Quarter Pounder with Sleaze’

Investigative Journalism 

Michael O’Farrell, The Irish Mail On Sunday

News Analysis

Daniel McConnell & Fiachra Ó Cionnaith, Irish Examiner

News Reporter

Conor Feehan, The Herald

Political Journalist of the Year

John Lee, The Irish Mail on Sunday

Political Story of the Year

Ellen Coyne, Ireland Edition of the Times


David Labanyi, The Irish Times

Showbiz Journalist of the Year

Ken Sweeney, The Irish Sun

Showbiz story of the year

Nadine O’ Regan, Sunday Business Post

Sports Journalist of the Year

Malachy Clerkin, The Irish Times

Sports Story of the Year

Martin Breheny, Irish Independent

Young Journalist of the Year

Niall O’ Connor, Irish Independent

Local Ireland Regional Journalist of the Year

Sorcha Crowley, Sligo Champion

Overall Journalist of the Year 2017

Catherine Fegan, Irish Daily Mail & The Irish Mail on Sunday

Challenges facing news media industry

Addressing the Journalism Awards, which took place in Dublin’s Mansion House, NewsBrands Ireland Chairperson, Vincent Crowley, described the awards as “a celebration of talent, curiosity, courage and dogged dedication to the art of journalism”. He also warned, however, that the industry faces a number of important challenges.

“[The awards] are also a timely reminder of the importance of a free press in Ireland today,” said Mr Crowley. “Freedom of expression remains a keystone of our democracy an in today’s world, the vital role of newspapers is more important than ever.

“It is of utmost importance that journalism is protected by a legislative framework that empowers journalists to do their jobs – that is, to inform the public and to hold accountable all those in positions of power. We welcome the current review of the Defamation Act and look forward to seeing the review report.”

Addressing Minister for Communications, Denis Naughton TD, Mr Crowley also described the current VAT rate of 9% on newspapers as a “tax on reading, literacy and information” and again called on the Government to reduce the VAT rate on newspapers to zero.

Chief Executive of the National Lottery, Dermot Griffin, congratulated all of the winners on their awards.

“The National Lottery is honoured to continue its support of these awards, which celebrate the very best in Irish journalism, and to formally acknowledge the wonderful and valuable work done over the past year.

“In an era in which the phrases “fake news” and “alternative facts” have been coined and become commonplace, the role of the Irish media in delivering fair, incisive and balanced journalism has never been more important.

“Irish people have always been loyal and faithful consumers of news and this country has a long and proud tradition of producing outstanding journalists. The National Lottery is honoured to be associated with such a fitting event and, you, the journalists who play such a crucial role in Irish society.

Also at today’s Journalism Awards, the newspaper industry presented a Special Contribution to Investigative Research award to the renowned historian Catherine Corless, whose reporting brought the plight of the Tuam Babies to the attention of the world.

Presenting Ms Corless with her special award, Vincent Crowley said: “This special award is in recognition of Catherine’s vital part in unearthing both the tragedy and the extent of what had happened in the Tuam Mother and Baby Home. Without her work, the Press would not have been able to tell the story and it would have remained hidden with the hundreds of innocent souls away from public sight.”


For further information please contact Lisa Buckley, NewsBrands Ireland. 087 7779259