Kitty Holland Wins NNI National Journalist of the Year at Annual Celebration of Newspaper Journalism

  • Kitty Holland takes top award for reporting of Savita Halappanavar story
  • Paul Williams wins Scoop of the Year for Anglo Tapes
  • Special award presented posthumously to Donal Walsh

The NNI Journalism Awards 2013 took place this afternoon in Dublin, with 21 industry awards presented for excellence in Irish newspaper journalism.

The award for NNI National Journalist of the Year went to Kitty Holland of The Irish Times for her reporting of the Savita Halappanavar story.

Presenting the award for NNI National Journalist of the Year, Michael Brophy, Chairman of the judging panel said: “Great stories have great consequences. They hit the newstands with an impact that spellbinds the audience. The reader then quickly realises that things in the future will not be the same as they were in the past. This year we witnessed one of those stories. A story that gripped the nation when it appeared and which set the national agenda for a long time after. And today we are all the richer as a society that it was published.”

Other highlights included Anthony Hennigan of the Western People winning NNI Regional Journalist of the Year, Paul Williams winning Scoop of the Year for the Anglo Tapes story and the team, with Paul Williams, Fionnan Sheahan and Tom Lyons winning the new Digital Award for their online presentation of the Anglo Tapes story.

A special award was presented posthumously to Donal Walsh for Outstanding Contribution to Public Debate.

“To an Ireland down at heel materially and spiritually Donal Walsh’s words were a reminder to us to count our blessings and be thankful for the simple things in life. Donal, the Celestial Tiger, will forever burn bright in our memory for teaching us to value what we have  – when we have it,” said Brendan O’Connor, who presented the award to Donal’s mother Elma.

Speaking to the attending guests, Matt Dempsey, Chairman of National Newspapers of Ireland (NNI) recognised that today’s awards celebrate the high quality content that sells newspapers. In this regard, he welcomed the publication of the Copyright Review Committee and particularly, its acknowledgment that newspapers and content creators make a vital contribution to the economy.

However, Dempsey also drew attention to aspects of the report that are not favourable for the newspaper industry, “Regrettably, the report also contained recommendations that could, that would, greatly limit the ability of newspapers to prevent others from commercially exploiting their content, without permission or fair remuneration.

“The creation of high-quality, original content requires significant investment on the part of newspaper publishers, to the tune of hundreds of millions of euro each year. That investment is underpinned by robust copyright protection, any loosening or weakening of which will have negative and far-reaching consequences for journalism, for press freedom and for media pluralism,” said Dempsey.

He called on all content creators to be vocal and active in the continuation of the debate over copyright.

A total of 21 industry awards were presented to newspaper journalists at today’s NNI Journalism Awards 2013. The full list of winners, with relevant citations, is as follows:

NNI Journalism Awards 2013 Winners & Citations

Outstanding Contribution to Public Debate – Donal Walsh

Some people live all their lives without ever acquiring a real sense of what they are about; Donal Walsh lived among us a mere 16 years and by the time of his parting had bequethed us a wisdom to serve the ages.

He sought to be neither a lamb nor a lion in life but an ordinary boy –  a young lad who only wanted to hang out with his friends – and what great friends they were – and just  what teenagers do as they grow up. But there was a different script for this son of Kerry; his would not be the glory of the sporting or the academic fields as occurs so often bestowed on people from the Kingdom.

Instead he was to become a beacon lighting the darkness of our lives to help us to realise just how precious a day in a life is. Never was this more poignantly and beautiful encapsuled than in his recounting in the Sunday Independent of the vicissitudes fate had thrown him as he battled to the final breath with his cancerous foe.

Forced down a road less travelled on a torturous journey, his fortitude and unflinching spirit in the face of constant medical adversity crystalised his appreciation for the jewel every grain of sand should be in the hourglass of time.

To an Ireland down at heel materially and spiritually Donal Walsh’s words were a reminder to us to count our blessings and be thankful for the simple things in life. Donal, the Celestial Tiger, will forever burn bright in our memory for teaching us to value what we have  – when we have it.

That is why Donal Walsh has won the Outstanding Contribution to Public Debate award.

Showbiz Journalist of the Year – Barry Egan, Sunday Independent

Far from being mere frivolity, a good showbiz story, at its heart, is a cracking human interest story – the celebrity element simply adds another layer of fascination to what should intrigue us no matter how famous or how humble the players – for a body of work that consistently meets that criterion, this year’s Showbiz Journalist of the Year is Barry Egan, The Sunday Independent.


Young Journalist of the Year – Elaine Loughlin, Irish Daily Mail

The future of journalism, like much else in this country, depends on the energy, commitment and sheer hard work of the up and coming generation and, if this year’s exceptionally strong showing in the Young Journalist category is any indication, it is in exceptionally safe hands. For a series of powerful articles written with flair, compassion and an eye for detail, this year’s Young Journalist of the Year is Elaine Loughlin, Irish Daily Mail.


Headline of the Year – Western People

Headlines come in all shapes and sizes, from the Sun’s brilliant ‘Gotcha’ to the Herald’s fantastic ‘Woman in sumo wrestler suit assaulted her ex girlfriend in gay pub after she waved at man dressed as Snickers bar’, which itself made headlines around the world. A great headline must connect to ordinary readers, it must attract attention and it must set the tone of the article, and this year’s winner does all of these things.


The winner of the NNI Best Headline of the Year is the Western People for Deja Voodoo.


Columnist of the Year – Paul Howard, The Irish Times

The mark of a good commentator is the ability to offer fresh insights on what are often old problems. Our winning columnist has been doing that for many years and just seems to get better and better.

Like any great columnist, our winner holds up a mirror to society. Although the reflection can be disturbingly accurate, when we look in this mirror we are more likely to laugh than to cry.

For our columnist of the year is a man best known by three names that aren’t his own. He’s Ross O’Carroll-Kelly – Paul Howard of the Irish Times.

 Best Foreign Coverage – Jason O’Brien, Irish Independent

Foreign journalists often risk life and limb to bring you stories from some of the most dangerous places in the world. Although events may be unfolding thousands of miles away, a good correspondent brings the reader into the heart of the story wherever he or she is in the world.

This year’s winner was smuggled over the border into Syria on a rickety raft to bring the stories of personal heartache behind the daily headlines from this war-torn country. From the story of a food trader who became a General to the father and his nephew killed by the same bullet from a government sniper, these articles shone a spotlight on the real cost of war.

The winner of the Foreign Journalist award is Jason O’Brien from the Irish Independent.

Sports Reporter of the Year – Roy Curtis, Sunday World

Old style reporting of  mere stats and passages of play has long lost its place in the pecking order due to the immediacy of radio, television and of course the blogger and the social media.

The modern newspaper sport reporters must have a quiver full of different arrows to hit the target than those of their forbears.

Blessed with an exalted turn of language and an ability to refract observations throrugh the prism of a quizzical eye, this reporter has managed to elevate the old craft of reporting to new heights as was instanced in the sublime entries this year of our sports reporter of the year, Roy Curtis of the Sunday World.

Sports Columnist of the Year – Neil Francis, Sunday Independent

Tackling the issues of the day is the food and drink of good sports commentary. To approach such subjects with unusual fearlessness can be either foolhardy or brave, depending on whose lawyers are looking in.

However when a columnist brings a deep understanding to the subject matter and is also blessed with a strong and creative writing style, it results in the provocative, stimulating and unmissable read which Neil Francis has become in the Sunday Independent.
Critic of the Year – Fintan O’Toole, The Irish Times
It’s not what you might think you want of the critic. “I have all the detachment,” he wrote, “of a barnacle, and all the objectivity of a love-struck teenager. I don’t like Oliver! I adore it.”  His review blended with humour, insight and context his usual erudition and a glorious sense of the pure joy and fun art can inspire. And writing of the essential Heaney the day he died, this year’s winner of the critic award captured brilliantly and movingly  “ the exemplary public man who gave a gentle gravity to our small affairs, who blessed our ordinary days with intimations of the extraordinary”….Who wants detachment?

Fintan O’Toole, too, gave us intimations of the extraordinary.

Best Design & Presentation – Sunday World

This entry cleverly included a fantastic supplement which actually showcased how consistently punchy the design of the product is.

When you are as bright and brash as this title is you have to have ballsy design to back it up and this year this entry had just that.

At times the product looks like a Greek soccer paper so garishly colourful is it but it somehow works. White space is an enemy and there’s barely enough time to draw breath so frenzied is it. But it defies you not to be drawn in.

Pictures are brilliantly used and they don’t hold back on the number. In one particular entry there wasn’t a lot new in the content but it was so compellingly put together who cares. There were some lovely ideas in presentation and a  sense of drama, tragedy and pace throughout with bold headlines, straps and our old crime friend font American Typewriter keeping you turning the page. The sense of urgency is entirely driven by the design.

The supplement really does remind you that all those words would mean nothing without the sense of drama, fun and chutzpah that the designer brings to the newspaper’s slightly out-of-control party.

The winner is The Sunday World.


Newspapers in Education The Irish Times, Fighting Words: Young Irish Writing

Newspapers inform and entertain but they also have an educational role, to encourage greater understanding of their value and to improve literacy.

Amongst a strong shortlist, this year’s winner stood out. Not only did the supplement fully engage with young people, the content was written by young writers.

Our winner gave young people a voice, encouraging their contemporaries to read.

The winner of the NNI award for Newspapers in Education is Fighting Words: Young Irish Writing in The Irish Times.

Business & Economics Journalist of the Year Ian Kehoe, The Sunday Business Post

In recent years, few areas have been so closely followed as business and economics with a readership desperate for information on our battered economy.

We were looking for not just for the big story but the writer who also explained this often complex world in the language of the everyday man and woman.

And no one did it better than one exceptional reporter.

So the award for Business Journalist of the Year 2013 goes to ….Ian Kehoe of the Sunday Business Post.

NNI Campaign of the Year – David Walsh, The Sunday Times

Every journalist hopes to have at least one campaigning story that will define his or her career, a story that will echo through the ages. But few Irish journalists can realistically expect that their campaign of a lifetime will dominate the news agenda across the entire globe.

Our winner commenced work on his career-defining story at a time when mobile phones were still a novelty, email was a luxury and the internet was just a plain curiousity. His campaign spanned three decades, two different centuries and two continents. It was a campaign rooted in the oldest and most noble journalistic principle of all: the telling of the truth.

Every conceivable obstacle – from libel writs to old-fashioned bullying – were placed in his way as he attempted to expose the biggest sporting fraud of our generation. But in the best traditions of campaigning journalism our winner refused to be silenced, and for 13 long years he kept a keen, journalistic eye on the only thing that mattered to him: the truth.

For his outstanding work in revealing the fraud that was Lance Armstrong it is my great privilege to announce the winner of the Campaign category as David Walsh of the Sunday Times.

News Reporter of the Year – Kitty Holland, The Irish Times

A good reporter has a nose for a story. They can sniff out events that others dismiss. They question, probe and check the facts – and then they check again. That’s what elevates them above the still excellent day in, day out work needed to fill hundreds of news pages every day. This year’s winner had a major impact on Irish society. Their story made international headlines and ultimately lead to a change in the law. This year’s winner is Kitty Holland of the Irish Times.


Best News Analysis – Michael O’Farrell, Irish Mail on Sunday

The winner of News Analysis is someone who has tracked down merchants of misery from all sections of society who have profited from the misfortune of others.

The winner has got in behind the story as only the very best in journalism can and has delivered complicated news analysis in an informative and compelling manner.

The News Analysis journalist of the year is Michael O’Farrell from the Irish Mail on Sunday.

Political Reporter of the Year – Fiach Kelly, Irish Independent

The winner of the political reporter category is someone who has exposed the double standards in government from 2007 to present day.

In a series of campaigning articles he uncovered the worst excesses of a previous Government that had lost touch with ordinary people.

And how ordinary people and a junior minister were incensed when he exposed some strange goings on behind the sudden appearance of a health centre in Balbriggan.

The Political reporter of the Year is Fiach Kelly of the Irish Independent.

 Feature Writer of the Year –Eoin Butler, Freelance

Feature writer of the year was the most competitive category in this year’s awards with 100 writers entering 300 pieces on an extraordinary range of subjects.

The judges were looking for a master of this newspaper craft that perhaps showcases better than any other, the enduring power of the printed page in the digital age.

This year’s winner showed a natural capacity for storytelling that went beyond the conveying of the facts to bring readers further into the heart of stories ranging from the deadly serious to the downright hilarious.

They demonstrated exceptional writing skills alongside an in-depth understanding of their subject matter and a willingness to get away from the desk and do the old fashioned legwork to produce features that displayed originality, empathy and humour.

The NNI feature writer of the year is Eoin Butler.

Crime Reporter of the Year – Mick McCaffrey, Sunday World

The articles submitted for crime reporter of the year read like a film script. Journalists venturing to the depths of gangland Ireland. They track down drug barons, human traffickers, white-collar criminals and hold them to account. They hold their nerve standing face-to-face with some of the most dangerous individuals in the country – putting their very lives at risk in many cases.

They also give a clear voice to the victims of crime.

Among these extraordinary examples of crime journalism, one reporter tracked down one of Ireland’s most wanted men, John Traynor, and asked him about the murder of Veronica Guerin.

For this phenomenal piece, among others, Mick McCaffery of the Sunday World is the crime reporter of the year.

The Digital Award – team and Paul Williams, Fionnan Sheahan, Tom Lyons for the Anglo Tapes

The past year has seen a huge advance in the area of online publishing with newspapers in Ireland now using their Digital Platforms both to break news stories and to follow-up, enhance and expand on coverage of events which have already appeared in print, while also using their online resources to provide important information and advice services to the public around critical events. It is fitting therefore that on this occasion Digital is recognised with its own category for the first time.

In a year of greatly increased activity online there was one story which really brought Digital centre stage and had the nation talking for weeks. The Digital award goes to the digital team and Paul Williams, Fionnan Sheahan and Tom Lyons for their coverage of The Anglo Tapes.

Scoop of the Year – Paul Williams, Irish Independent

Every journalist wants to write the story that gets the whole nation talking, but few achieve it with such aplomb.

This story has it all – drama, deceit and shocking revelations which finally gave us insight into the fat cat culture which blighted the country.

But more importantly it did what all truly great stories should do – it exposed the scandal, informed the public, lead the news agenda across all mediums – and even gave new meaning to an old Hollywood catchphrase.

It is my immense pleasure to present the award for Scoop of the Year to Paul Williams.

Regional Journalist of the Year – Anthony Hennigan, Western People

GK Chesterton is quoted as saying; journalism largely consists of saying ‘Lord Jones is dead’, to people who never knew Lord Jones was alive.

This cannot be said for regional journalism where very often the readers have first-hand knowledge of the stories being reported on.  Therefore the writing must ring through and identify with its audience.

The excellent regional journalist makes this connection appear effortless. He or she can capture the emotions, the hopes and fears of their readers. Add in superb writing skills and the ability to tell a great story and you find Anthony Hennigan of the Western People in a class of his own. He is this year’s Regional Journalist of the Year.

National Journalist of the Year – Kitty Holland, The Irish Times

Great stories have great consequences. They hit the newsstands with an impact which spellbinds the audience. The reader then quickly realises that things in the future will not be the same as they were in the past.
This year we witnessed one of those stories. A story which gripped the nation when it appeared and which set the national agenda for a long time after.
And today we are all the richer as a society that it was published.
The winner of Journalist of the Year is Kitty Holland of the Irish Times.


For further information contact:

Ann Marie Lenihan

T: 086 816 2764