NNI National Journalist of the Year Award Goes to Irish Independent Team

 
 

The 2012 NNI Journalism Awards took place at Dublin’s Four Seasons Hotel this afternoon, with Ireland’s leading journalism award going to the Irish Independent in recognition of its coverage of last year’s Presidential Election.

The award for NNI National Journalist of the Year was presented to Michael Brennan, Fiach Kelly, Cormac McQuinn and Fionnan Sheahan, the four-man team behind the Irish Independent‘s 2011 Presidential Election coverage. Runners-up for the overall title were Michael O’Farrell of the Irish Mail on Sunday and The Irish Times‘s Mary Fitzgerald.

Presenting the National Journalist of the Year award, Michael Brophy, Chairman of the NNI judging panel, praised the Irish Independent team for “embarking on a series of three magnificent exclusive stories that shone a light into the darker recesses of the national’s body politic.

“In a year of many other great stories which highlighted the breadth and depth of fine Irish journalism, these reports stood clearly above all others and effectively changed the course of a major national event,” Mr Brophy added.

Other highlights of today’s awards ceremony included Marisa Reidy of The Kerryman winning the NNI Regional Journalist of the Year award and Michael O’Farrell of the Irish Mail on Sunday winning the Scoop of the Year prize for his sensational undercover story involving the Quinn family.

Miriam Lord of The Irish Times, meanwhile, make it back-to-back titles by winning her second consecutive NNI Political Journalist of the Year award.

A total of 17 industry awards were presented at today’s 2012 NNI Journalism Awards.

The full list of winners is as follows:

National Journalist of the Year: Irish Independent Presidential Election Team, Irish Independent

Regional Journalist of the Year: Marisa Reidy, The Kerryman

Crime & Security Reporter of the Year: Nicola Tallant, Sunday World

Scoop of the Year: Michael O’Farrell, Irish Mail on Sunday

Critic of the Year: Eileen Battersby, The Irish Times

Political Journalist of the Year: Miriam Lord, The Irish Times

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

Commentator of the Year: Dermot Bolger, Irish Daily Mail

Columnist of the Year: Justine McCarthy, The Sunday Times

Feature Writer of the Year: Philip Nolan, Irish Daily Mail

Young Journalist of the Year: Jennifer Bray, Irish Daily Mail

Newspapers in Education: Irish Independent

Headline of the Year: “Tiocfaidh Ar Lamh” Irish Daily Star

Sports Reporter of the Year: Ewan Mackenna, Irish Examiner

Sports Columnist of the Year:  Eamonn Sweeney, Sunday Independent

Showbiz Journalist of the Year: Alexandra Ryan, Irish Mail on Sunday

Best Design & Presentation: Irish Daily Mail

“Nothing comes close to newspaper journalism”

Speaking at today’s awards ceremony NNI Chairman Matt Dempsey congratulated all the winners as well as those who were shortlisted, commenting that quality journalism is still the main reason for the popularity of newspapers, both in print and online.

“When it comes to insight, depth, credibility, colour, carefully researched and expertly written news, analysis and opinion, nothing comes close to newspaper journalism,” he said.

“While our industry does face many challenges, the fact is that we now have a larger audience than at any time in the history of the newspaper,” said Mr Dempsey. “According to WAN-IFRA newspapers have more than 2.5 billion print customers and more than 600 million digital followers globally.

“More people are reading newspapers than ever before, and that is testament to the quality of newspaper content,” he added.

Aengus Fanning, Con Houlihan honoured

Another highlight of today’s event was the NNI award for Outstanding Contribution to the Newspaper Industry, which this year went to Aengus Fanning, former editor of the Sunday Independent, who died in January of this year.

Announcing the award, NNI co-ordinating director Frank Cullen said that Mr Fanning was the greatest Sunday newspaper editor the industry has ever seen.

“His legacy is bourne our every weekend as hundreds of thousands of people line up to buy the newspaper that informs and irritates in equal measure.” Mr Cullen said.

“Aengus Fanning believed that what is left out of a newspaper is as important as what goes into it, and leave things out he did, clearing vast areas of space for controversial and intellectual debate that both riveted and divided the nation every weekend.

“He left us in January of this year, far too early in a life that was full, vibrant and eclectic,” Mr Cullen went on. The award was accepted on Aengus Fanning’s behalf by current Sunday Independent editor, Anne Harris.

To mark a year in which a number of high profile journalists and writers have passed away, including Mary Raftery, Seamus McConville, Caroline Walsh, Maeve Binchy and others, a special award was introduced: the NNI Supreme Wordsmith award.

The recipient was the legendary Con Houlihan, who also died this year. The award was presented by special guest Pat Spillane, who read a special citation in honour of the late writer and journalist.

Judges’ Citations

NNI National Journalist of the Year: Irish Independent Presidential Election Team

The fly-leaf of the Kemsley Manual of Journalism – a venerable tome published in England at the beginning of the last century – bears the legend:

“Anything that somebody wants to get into a newspaper is advertising. Anything that somebody wants to keep out of a newspaper is news.”

The candidates shortlisted for the award of National Journalist of the Year would have made the Kemsley Newspaper Empire very happy.

They are Mary Fitzgerald of The Irish Times; Michael O’Farrell of the Irish Mail on Sunday; and the Irish Independent Presidential Election team.

It is as if the winner of this award had the Kemsley exhortation mentally inscribed before embarking on a series of three magnificent exclusive stories that shone a light into the darker recesses of the Nation’s body politic.

In a year of many other great stories, which highlighted the breadth and depth of fine Irish journalism, these reports stood clearly above all others and effectively changes the course of a major national event.

For the coverage of the Presidential Election campaign and the breaking of lead stories that changed its course, the award for National Journalist of the Year goes to the Irish Independent Presidential Election team of Fionnán Sheahan; Michael Brennan; Fiach Kelly; and Cormac Quinn.

Also nominated in this category: Mary FitzGerald (The Irish Times), Michael O’Farrell (Irish Mail on Sunday)

NNI Regional Journalist of the Year: Marisa Reidy (The Kerryman)

With endless chatter and debate about the changing face of journalism, we should never forget that the necessary for some old fashioned skills, techniques and abilities remain unchanged.

Primarily, the ability of a journalist to gain the trust and confidence of someone, particularly so in difficult circumstances for that person – and this at a time when it’s fashionable to both diss and distrust the media. Then there’s the skill to relate that story, being true to its essence, while doing so in a manner than grabs the attention of the reader.

Those time-honoured attributed live strong in our Regional Journalist of the Year, whose work displays a great ability to get people to trust her, to talk and open up to her, to tell their often tragic stories. She has also shown the sharpness to turn a run-of-the-mill court case into a really strong and engaging news story, by persuading both the perpetrator as well as the victim to talk to her. The winner is Marisa Reidy of The Kerryman.

Also nominated in this category: David Looby (Wexford Echo), Joe Leogue (The Corkman), Sarah Horgan (Evening Echo)

NNI Crime & Security Reporter of the Year: Nicola Tallant (Sunday World)

The US entertainer Will Rogers was quoted as saying that, since we don’t appear to be able to put a stop to crime, why not legalise it and tax it out of business? Not a bad suggestion but one that’s unlikely to happen, so another way of stemming crime is to expose those who make it their everyday work. Good journalist does this, and for this award the judges were looking for a journalist who would go beyond the crime statistics, a journalist who has an in depth knowledge of the criminal underworld and makes it squirm under her gaze.

This is what Nicola Tallant excels at every week in the Sunday World and what makes her Crime and Security Journalist of the Year

Also nominated in this category: Paul Williams (The Irish Sun), Eimear Ni Bhraonain (Irish Independent), Niall Donald (Sunday World), John Mooney (The Sunday Times), Gemma O’Doherty (Irish Independent), Alan Sherry (Sunday World)

NNI Scoop of the Year: Michael O’Farrell (Irish Mail on Sunday)

There is one story that stands head and shoulders above all others in the past year, a story any editor or journalist would have loved.

The secret video filmed in Russia of a Quinn family member saying he was prepared to mislead a court was jaw-dropping. This sensational article and footage set the news agenda for days.

So, by a country mile, the award for Scoop of the Year goes to Michael O’Farrell of the Irish Mail on Sunday.

Also nominated in this category: Senan Molony (Irish Daily Mail); Fionnan Sheahan (Irish Independent), Adelina Campos (Irish Sunday Mirror)

NNI Critic of the Year: Eileen Battersby (The Irish Times)

PG Wodehouse did not care for critics. “They come out after dark,” he said. “And they’re up to no good.” But while there will always be tension between artist and critic, few could complain that the entrants in this category were up to no good. Their criticisms were invariably constructive and displayed an understanding of the difficultly of artistic creation, whether the subject was a play, a book or a fine meal. To these vital qualities the winner added impressive knowledge and superb writing skills, which have led John Banville to describe her as “the finest critic we have”. For all this, plus the courage to reject conventional wisdom in favour of her own sounds sense, Eileen Battersby of The Irish Times is a worthy Critic of the Year.

Also nominated in this category: Gemma Tipton (The Irish Times), Liam Fay (The Sunday Times), Tom Doorley (Irish Daily Mail)

NNI Political Journalist of the Year: Miriam Lord (The Irish Times)

For an entry which included riveting commentary, perceptive analysis and stylish writing as ever on major matters political. Never less than forensic in detail, engaging in language, courageous, outspoken and laved with wit, this journalist continues to excel. In particular for the memorable piece advising Micheal Martin and Fianna Fáil to spare us the indignation over Bertie Ahern, and the excellent capture of Michael D’s transition from private citizen to President-elect, this award goes to Miriam Lord of The Irish Times.

Also nominated in this category: June McEnroe (Irish Examiner), Martin Wall (The Irish Times), Eimear Ni Bhraonain (Irish Independent), Cormac McQuinn (Irish Independent).

NNI Business & Economics Journalist of the Year: Ian Kehoe (Sunday Business Post)

The events of the last few years have made villains out of business giants, celebrities of economist and essential reading of the newspaper business pages – who’d have thought we’d see a day when the most gripping takes of secret deals, shady Russians, hostages and fugitives and a very expensive wedding cake with its own air miles, came, note from the review of Liam Neeson’s latest action movie, but from the business section?

All of the journalists on the shortlist – indeed, pretty much all in this tightly contested category – have responded to the broadening of their audience by conveying their knowledge, their insight and their analyses in a manner that is informative, accessible and highly readable, without ever compromising on authority or detail. For his unmatched work in drilling down into the complexities of the Quinn empire, and making it read like a page-turner, the Business and Economics Journalist of the Year is Ian Kehoe of The Sunday Business Post.

Also nominated in this category: Mark Keenan (Irish Independent), Charlie Weston (Irish Independent), Tom Lyons (Sunday Independent), Simon Carswell (The Irish Times), Conor Keane (Irish Examiner)

NNI Commentator of the Year: dermot Bolger (Irish Daily Mail)

Commentators give us an insight into events, people and places. They make us think with their arguments – whether we agree with their point of view or not.

This year’s winner borrows heavily from his personal experiences to provoke thought and make us reflect on what is happening around us.

The commentator of the year is Dermot Bolger of the Irish Daily Mail.

Also nominated in this category: Mary Ellen Synon (Irish Daily Mail), Dearbhail McDonald (Irish Independent), Lara Marlowe (The Irish Times)

NNI Columnist of the Year: Justine McCarthy (The Sunday Times)

This journalist manages to tackle the most difficult subject matter with courage, directness and compassion. This is a writer with the ability to address shaming aspects of Irish life without cynicism, and the ability to provoke discussion with interesting ideas and perspectives. As a columnist this person has gone from strength to strength and is quite simply unmissable each week. This year she reached new heights both with the quality of her writing and scope of her opinion. The Columnist of the Year award for 2012 goes most deservedly to Justine McCarthy of The Sunday Times.

Also nominated in this category: Paddy Murray (Sunday World), Michael Harding (The Irish Times), Fr. Brian Darcy (Sunday World)

NNI Feature Writer of the Year: Philip Nolan (Irish Daily Mail)

In an era of instant, 24/7 news, the role of the feature writer has never been more important. Readers of our newspapers increasingly depend on talented feature writers to lead them beyond the ticker-tape headlines into the heart of the story, providing the sort of informed and authoritative insight that only print journalism can deliver.

This year’s winner of the Feature Writer category is a consummate wordsmith whose sparkling prose and shrewd, perceptive observations make them a true master of their craft.

Our winner possesses an effortless ability to engage, inform and entertain the reading public, not to mention a rare versatility that makes them capable of turning their cultures pen to any subject matter of their choosing.

The Feature Writer of the Year is Philip Nolan of the Irish Daily Mail.

Also nominated in this category: Eimear Ni Bhraonain (Irish Independent), Kathy Sheridan (The Irish Times), Gemma O’Doherty (Irish Independent), Conor Lally (The Irish Times), Catherine Fegan (Irish Daily Mail)

NNI Young Journalist of the Year: Jennifer Bray (Irish Daily Mail)

Journalist at its very best provides a voice to those who have none, shines a light into the darker areas of our society and holds those in power to account.

The journalists who are nominate for Young Journalist of the Year have showcased some of these best qualities and the judges were incredibly impressed with the high standard of work submitted in this category.

If journalists are supposed to provide a voice to those who have none, then who better than a mother-of-three who is fighting the system to get access to a drug that could potentially save her life.

Through a powerful and moving account of their own experience, this journalist shone a light on a dark corner of our modern Ireland – random attacks on innocent people that take place every day on our streets.

The Young Journalist of the Year is Jennifer Bray of the Irish Daily Mail.

Also nominated in this category: Niall O’Connor (Evening Herald), Adelina Campos (Irish Sunday Mirror), Orla Tinsley (The Irish Times), David Sneyd (Irish Mail on Sunday), Sarah Bardon (Irish Daily Mirror)

NNI Newspapers in Education (NiE) Award

Newspapers are often lauded for their ability to act as society’s watchdog but they have other important functions, not least of which is the promotion of literacy. The Newspapers in Education category recognises newspaper supplements and initiatives that encourage young people to read newspapers and help to promote understanding of newspapers’ role in society.

This year’s winning entry highlighted the role that newspapers played in society 100 years ago – and the role they continue to play today. These supplements encouraged people of all ages to read and engage with them. The fact that 10,000 additional copies were sold for use in classrooms is testament to how popular this initiative was.

The award for Newspapers in Education goes to the Irish Independent for Titanic Stories.

Also nominated in this category: TY People by People Newspapers.

NNI Headline of the Year: “Tiocfaidh Ar Lámh (Irish Daily Star)

The perfect headline combines immediacy with depth. It captures a big story in a few short words. The winner in this category is a brilliant example of the art, a clever pun that illuminates a historic moment. It tells us in an instant why Martin McGuinness’s handshake with the Queen really mattered: Tiocfaidh At Lámh by the Irish Daily Star.

Also nominated in this category: Honey We Blew Up The Kids (The Sunday Times); Trunk And Disorderly (The Irish Sun); and 7 Hours And 15 Days (Irish Daily Star)

NNI Showbiz Journalist of the Year: Alexandra Ryan (Irish Mail on Sunday)

For Showbiz Journalist of the Year, the judges were looking for someone with a nose for exclusives who could delve further to get behind the public face of the stars.

This year’s winner demonstrated both these skills with entertainment scoops that took readers behind the scenes to reveal another side to the story.

The winner displayed a talent for getting her celebrity interviewees to open up and reveal the hidden truth behind the public façade.

From exposing the ugly side of the beauty business to getting stars to divulge their inner secrets, this year’s Showbiz Journalist of the Year showed how newspapers can go further to get to the real story.

The nNI Showbiz Journalist of the Year 2012 is Alexandra Ryan of the Irish Mail on Sunday.

Also nominated in this category: Niamh Walsh (Irish Mail on Sunday), Alana Fearon (Irish Daily Mirror); Eoin Murphy (Irish Mail on Sunday)

NNI Best Design & Presentation

In these days of instant communication, the chaff of social networked news, the quantity over the quality, an award like this, in my opinion, becomes ever more important. For the bringing together of great content, fantastic pictures under the creative eye of the brilliant lay-out artist and headline writer is for me an art we lose at our peril.

Death to the template say I – let’s make sure we keep the old skill of powerful presentation. The newspapers that do so, I believe, have a greater chance of surviving the storm, reminding us they were such forces in the land in the first place. It’s actually what makes us different.

The winner of the design award goes to a newspapers which combined confidence with panache to produce brilliant products. One sample had 2 pages on just one news item yet every page was fresh and enticing. There was attitude, colour cohesion and brilliant headline writing throughout. The winner is the Irish Daily Mail.

Also nominated in this category: Sunday World, The Irish Times (The Ticket)

NNI Sports Reporter of the Year: Ewan MacKenna (Irish Examiner)

For most reporters, sports writing becomes a lifelong apprenticeship. For a chosen few, their craft comes as a gift of nature. This year’s winner falls firmly into that category. Acknowledged from an early stage for his unique penmanship and fearlessness in identifying and tackling issues of the day, he has made an effortless transition from Sunday to daily writing by bringing the same compulsive narrative and observational insight to a wide range of subjects. This year’s Sports Reporter of the Year is Ewan MacKenna of the Irish Examiner.

Also nominated in this category: Dion Fanning (Sunday Independent); Martin Breheny (Irish Independent); Malachy Clerkin (The Irish Times); Kieran Cunningham (Irish Daily Star); Philip Quinn (Irish Daily Mail)

NNI Sports Columnist of the Year: Eamonn Sweeney (Sunday Independent)

His is an authoritative voice equally at home commenting on the big stage of the European championships or the more humble surroundings of a GAA county final. The clarity of understanding he brings to complex subjects has gained him a following among both the aficionados and those who stray into the sport section to see what he has on offer on any given Sunday. Above all it is the breadth and depth of knowledge in his weekly columns that places Eamonn Sweeney of the Sunday Independent very much in a class of his own. He is this year’s Sports Columnist of the Year.

Also nominated in this category: Neil Francis (Sunday Independent); Keith Duggan (The Irish Times); Dion Fanning (Sunday Independent); Roy Curtis (Sunday World)