Business Story - John Meagher

Judges citation: Brendan Keenan

Citation: John Meagher: Business Story:

Just about everyone agrees that the “gig” economy is bringing change as profound as anything since the industrial revolution.

For optimists, it is the herald of a bright new future, freeing people from the tyranny of the factory floor or the office. For pessimists, it is just the latest use of technology to exploit workers; destroying secure, skilled jobs and replacing them with nothing more than poorly-paid piecework dressed up in the glamour of the interne.

Everyone agrees that, whichever it is, it is important, but it is all too new and chaotic for standard economic analysis to be of much help to even the sophisticated reader. John Meagher got on his bike and talked to those in the throes of the revolution; the (mostly young) riders for Deliveroo and the company itself.

He captures the daily grind, uncertainty and insecurity – and attractions - of the gig economy with impressive interviews and one rider's story; backed up with startling figures on the money involved and balanced by comments from the firm. He leaves the readers with little doubt where his sympathies lie, while allowing them draw their own conclusions.

Business Journalist - Jack Horgan-Jones

Judges citation: Siobhan O’ Connell citation

Jack Horgan-Jones: Business Journalist

There is micro and macro in economics and it is hard to think of anything more micro than a slaughter house in Lifford, or as macro as the billions behind the vulture funds which swooped on Irish property. What they have in common is unpayable debts and the anger and misery that comes with them.

To paraphrase Patrick Kavanagh, Homer made the Iliad from disputes such as that over the Edenmore meat factory in Lifford. Homer would certainly have understood the violence which lurks so close to the surface in any Irish land dispute. Horgan-Jones leaves the threat of violence as an uneasy backdrop to a story of bubble-era borrowing, dubious accounting and personal feuds.

In the Olympian heights of the financial world, he explains with admirable clarity, and perhaps even more admirable restraint, how the funds which bought distressed Irish property for a song used Irish law to pay only nominal tax of €250 on profits of up to €20bn. His third entry, covering the leaking of immensely valuable information from Nama by executive Enda Farrell, combines with the others to make a powerful morality tale of how money corrupts.

Columnist (Broadsheet) - Fintan O'Toole

Judges citation: The award for broadsheet Columnist of the Year goes to a writer of outstanding analysis who consistently opens avenues of independent thought.
From the "double lies" of Brexit, to the "United Hates of America", this writer has used all of his considerable journalistic experience to tell us within 24 hours of Donald Trump's November 2016 election, "The more Trump fails – and he will fail spectacularly – the more he will turn up the dial on the blame game." In the aftermath of the Manchester Bombing he wrote  an uncomfortable truth,  "killing is easy, living decently in the face of it is hard."
At a time when the voice of quality independent journalism is needed more than ever, the award goes to Fintan O'Toole of the Irish Times.

Columnist (Popular) - Lynda McCarthy

Judges citation: ‘It is said that the job of a popular columnist relies on having something original and useful to say.

These writers are tasked with documenting the happenings in our world from a unique perspective.

The mark of a truly great popular columnist, however, rests on the ability to switch from topics serious to light without ever losing our attention or, worse, becoming dull!

Our popular columnist of the year is a fresh voice, who is unafraid to challenge the status quo, and who demonstrates the courage of her convictions in her writing.

‘She is Lynda McCarthy of the Sunday World.’

Crime Journalist - Michael O'Toole

Judges citation: Judges’ citation – Crime Journalist of the Year

Crime journalists are a special breed. Day in, day out, they confront some of the most dangerous individuals in Irish society as they deliver exclusive reports that shine a light into the dark recesses of Ireland’s criminal underworld.
This year’s winner broke a series of top-drawer crime scoops that not only focused on the ongoing Hutch-Kinahan feud but also examined the links between Ireland and international terrorist group, Islamic State.
His high-quality reportage in the past year included tracking down mob boss Christy Kinahan to Hong Kong and exclusively revealed that one of the ISIS London Bridge attackers had lived in Ireland for a number of years.
For a fine body of work that displays an innate understanding of organised crime and discloses how the tentacles of jihadist terrorism have now reached this country, this year’s Crime Journalist of the Year award goes to Michael O’Toole of the Irish Daily Star.

Crime Story - Michael O'Toole

Judges citation: Judge’s Citation: Mick McCaffrey

The aim of every journalist and newspaper is to scoop their rivals and crime journalism is perhaps the most competitive of all the specialities.
We can all remember seeing an exclusive splash on the newsstand and having that sinking feeling that your day was going to be dominated by scrambling to play catch-up.
The winner of the Crime Story of the Year is a great example of a story that had newsrooms throughout the country on the back foot.
We live in a dangerous world where the prospect of an attack by jihadist terrorists is a very real possibility.
2017 has seen deadly terrorist incidents in Barcelona, Stockholm, Manchester and London. The winner of this year’s award revealed that one of the terrorists shot dead by police after the deadly attack in London in June lived in Dublin and had an Irish ID card on him when searched by police.
It was a stark reminder of the challenges that gardai and their counterparts abroad have to try to keep us safe from an attack on our own doorstep.
The Winner of the Crime Story on the Year is Michael O’Toole from the Irish Daily Star for his front page story “killer ‘lived in Ireland’”

Critic - Patrick Freyne

Judges citation: Critic of the Year

The shortlist features six journalists whose judgement, style and wit deserve to be widely celebrated.

The winner is someone who made us laugh out loud; someone who was fearless and trenchant; someone whose writing "was witty, thoughtful and very, very smart." If you think that description sounds familiar, you are correct, because it was used to describe the winner of this category in 2016. Once again, the critic of the year is Patrick Freyne of the Irish Times. 

Digital Excellence - The Irish Times Abroad, Ciara Kenny

Judges citation: Jane Suiter

The best of digital innovation enhances journalism. It provides new ways to cover stories, makes the lives of journalists easier and engages the audience. Many of the short listed entrants did this but the one that score highest across all three areas was a collaborative project between editorial and technical staff at the Irish Times. The Irish Times Abroad, launched in November 2016 is led by Ciara Kenny.
The project was selected by the Google Digital News Initiative, a Europe-wide innovation fund, for support in 2016. The Network aims to keep readers around the world connected with The Irish Times by highlighting the most relevant content for them in a weekly email digest; make it easier for them the diaspora to contribute UGC though a new tool, and crucially allows for the Irish Times to contact them when looking for interviewees; thus fostering community and engagement. Overall the award then geos to Ciara Kenny for this very effective use of digital means to build an audience, to generate content and build a journalistic resource.

Features (Broadsheet) - Conor Lally

Judges citation: Broadsheet Features

For the judges this category really was both a mammoth task, because of the large number of entries, and a joy to read through, because of the depth and quality of writing. 

The shortlist alone has a range of topics covering everything from technology to tourism, politics to health. 

The judges agreed that a good feature doesn’t just have to be comprehensive but also needs to go deep on the topic and either present information in a new light or actually cast new light on the topic. The winner of the Broadsheet Features category did all that with his 3 entries - putting a human face on a story we’re all aware - the rise in Garda abuse, adding a new angle to the Philip Cairns disappearance, and a scoop about a story of abuse by a high profile academic. 

The winner is Conor Lally from The Irish Times.

Features (Popular) - Catherine Fegan

Judges citation:

Foreign coverage - Ruadhán Mac Cormaic

Judges citation: Foreign Coverage

We know how a small country can be buffeted by big events taking place elsewhere, whether its tech developments in silicon valley, seeing Irish troops leaving for the Golan Heights, a single refugee child lying dead on a European beach or groups of refugees arriving to small towns and villages around Ireland, no less than the threat of war in Asia.

Foreign news helps us understand the world around us, and the entries for his category were especially strong, but the winner stands out as a journalist who can make sense of America on the eve of president Trump’s victory, as well as the disaster and tragedy of Syria, and so in both cases with understanding compassion and insight. The winner of the category foreign coverage is Ruadhán Mac Cormaic of The Irish Times

Front Page - Irish Daily Mirror 'What Have They Done'

Judges citation: Mairead Lavery

Front page

A great front page has to make people want to buy that newspaper. It achieves this by using words and imagery to tell a story in an arresting, provocative or moving way. It should also be able to capture the mood and reaction to an event.
The Irish Daily Mirror’s front page of 10November 2016 does exactly that.
Its use of the Statue of Liberty to depict reaction to the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States of America is inspired.
Her cry of ‘what have they done’ strikes a chord with the generations of people, past and present, for whom the USA, symbolised by the Statue of Liberty was a place of welcome, of hope and of freedom.
The despair of Lady Liberty perfectly caught the mood and reaction of much of the western world to this election result.

Headline - Irish Daily Star 'Quarter Pounder with Sleaze'

Judges citation: Headline of the Year

Quarter Pounder with Sleaze is the headline that gives everything. Four words powerfully communicating the essence of this classic tabloid page one story. Brilliantly simplified and easy to understand, it represents the best of headline writing craft. Pithy and witty, it’s a wonderful play on the familiar fast food order and caught the imagination of the judges instantly.
In this masterful execution, John Mitchell has thrown a light on the power of a sub editor to transform a story that might otherwise have been buried on an inside page to a great tabloid front page.
Headline writers everywhere will look jealously at the power that this work has given to the story. It will undoubtedly spur them on to dig deep to match this clever and witty execution.

Investigative journalism - Michael O'Farrell

Judges citation: Judges Citation -
Investigative Journalism

At a time when there is a multiplicity of social media and blogging masquerading as real news, now, more than ever...... premium original investigative journalism and the time and cost that it entails should be valued and recognized by journalists, the newspaper industry, and hopefully, readers and citizens.

There were a few notable entrants for the Investigative Journalism category this year, a fact that is encouraging in the newspaper world that we live in today.

The short list was good. The public matters investigated ranged from vulture funds to abortion, nursing homes, special provision, to the top-up of funds in the university sector. We had to make a difficult choice. After due consideration and debate, we made a clear one.

For all of the criteria and reasons outlined in this citation, the winner of the Investigative Journalism Award 2017 is Michael O’Farrell for his incisive and persistent exposure of the St John of God charity in the Irish Mail on Sunday.

News Analysis - Daniel McConnell & Fiachra Ó Cionnaith

Judges citation: 'With breaking news coming at us minute by minute, what newspapers do so well is provide in depth coverage, and explain the implications of what is taking place in the world around us. Newspapers provide the ‘Why’ to the Who, What, When and Where.
This year’s winners used exceptional and sensitive reporting skills to address the tragedy of child abuse and also exposed system failure. The journalists gave a voice to those who had been ignored by the system, sticking with a complex story for over five months.
For their coverage of the shocking and sad story of two little girls abused while in the care of the State, known as Grace and Sarah, the 2017 news analysis award goes to Daniel McConnell and Fiachra O Cionnaith of the Irish Examiner'

Political journalist - John Lee

Judges citation: John Lee – Political Journalist of the Year
The recipient of this year’s award goes to a journalist who is no stranger to the corridors of Leinster House. The winner has a reputation for digging, holding the powerful to account ... and a bit of devilment as well.
The winner can call themselves Political Journalist of the Year for 2017 due to their work in exposing the underbelly of Garda management and mismanagement in Ireland.
Through relentless digging, investigation and research, the recipient laid bare the significant financial and cultural issues at the Garda College.
The coverage of this story in the recipient’s newspaper was detailed. No stone was left unturned to bring every element of this story to the public’s attention.
And the true definition of a great story – the repercussions that followed. This story set the news agenda for many weeks – thanks in no small part to this year’s Newsbrands Ireland Political Journalist of the Year – John Lee from the Irish Mail on Sunday.

Political Story - Ellen Coyne

Judges citation: Ellen Coyne – Political Story of the Year
The Political Story of the Year 2017 certainly got people talking.
Whenever you put the State and the religious orders into a pot and stir – the result is often toxic and leaves a permanent bad taste in the mouths of the caring public.
This story – published in March of this year – revealed how Ireland’s new maternity hospital was being ‘given’ to a religious order that still owes millions of euro in compensation for child abuse.
While that in itself was shocking, the repercussions that followed marked this story out as being of significant importance to Irish society. With the religious involved, what would be the ethos in the hospital in a changing society? Why should they be simply handed over a hospital that is to be build with more than €200m of taxpayers’ money?
The story was picked up by other newspapers, radio stations and TV stations and it started a debate that simply would not go away.
The author of this year’s Political Story of the Year is Ellen Coyne from the Ireland Edition of the Times

Showbiz Journalist - Ken Sweeney

Judges citation: Citation for Showbiz Journalist of the Year:

The task of the showbiz journalist is not easy. Charged with uncovering scandalous and salacious details from the lives of our most beloved celebrities, they must perform the balancing act of acting as both eavesdropper on, and confidante to, their sources.
A challenging role, it’s one that the writers on our shortlist all master with style, delivering a weekly – and in many cases, daily – array of stories that share exclusive insights into the world of celebrity with us, their readers.
And no-one achieves this more ably than this year’s Showbiz Journalist of the Year.
A stalwart of the showbiz scene, his submissions demonstrated the breadth of his range and influence - spanning exclusive stories of showbiz spats, breaking news and intimate interviews.
For this work, I would like to congratulate Ken Sweeney on winning this year’s Showbiz Journalist of the Year award.

Many thanks,

Showbiz story - Nadine O’ Regan

Judges citation: ‘A great showbiz story is about dodging the PR spin and getting the gossip straight from the horse’s mouth. It’s also about being brave enough to fire that killer question and being lucky enough to get that enviable scoop in return, which is why the Showbiz Story of the Year goes to Nadine O’Regan, Sunday Business Post.’

News Reporter - Conor Feehan

Judges citation: News reporting. Often it can be taken for granted as a regular staple output of journalism.
However, to be a top quality news reporter, a journalist must be equipped with a wide range of attributes and skills. In the digital age, the true fundamental qualities of a good news reporter still shine through all the noise and clutter.
Courage, perseverance, empathy, diligence, compassion and a sheer tenacity to nail down the story.
This year’s winner is completely deserving of this award. This journalist possesses these qualities in spades and then some more. This journalist has year after year, paper after paper broken top class exclusive stories and has set the news agenda of the day for all others to follow. 
The most surprising aspect is it is the first time this journalist has received this accolade despite their work to date. I can think of no more a deserving recipient of News Reporter of 2017 than Conor Feehan

Barry Duggan

Scoop - David Labanyi

Judges citation: Scoop
Judges’ citation:  Only a handful of exclusives hit home like this year’s winner.  Not only is the country still baffled by the scale of the controversy exposed in the ranks of the Garda, but the top brass are still being called to account months after the story made the front page.
So, for breaking the scandal of the Garda’s bogus breath tests the winner of the Scoop of the Year goes to David Labanyi of The Irish Times.

Sports Story - Martin Breheny

Judges citation: Sports Story of the Year Award

Dave O’ Connell, Group Editor Connaught Tribune

It is rare that a follow-up 14 months after an event can have such a seismic impact – but this year’s Sports Story of the Year achieved that and more.
Mayo’s football heartbreak has become almost an annual event, but the fall-out that followed their defeat in the 2015 final was only really exposed when the full, unedifying story of the player revolt was brought into the public domain.
This was the first airing of the panel’s letter that cost the Mayo management team their jobs, and their first reaction to that player power that forced them from office.
The story is told forensically and with clarity; it is reported without fear or favour, and with a knowledge of his subject matter that only a lifetime at the forefront of sports reporting can bring.
For his investigation, headlined ‘The Letter That Tore Mayo Apart’, this year’s Sports Story of the Year Award goes to Martin Breheny of the Irish Independent.

Sports Writer - Malachy Clerkin

Judges citation: PJ Cunningham


The modern day sports writer has become a person of many parts and t
his year's winner is a reporter whose achievement in turning out quality articles simply runs the legs off other competitors.

He has the unique knack of making interview subjects confide wonderful insights to him which he then delivers to his readers in a narrative that hits the bulls-eye like a line from a poem of his fellow county man, the great poet Patrick Kavanagh. 

There may be no stony grey soil on the playing fields of Irish sporting endeavour but this writer's trusty quill searches under every sod and blade of grass for what sporting enthusiasts want to know - the real story.

In the year under review,  the noble craft of sports reporting was  elevated to new heights by the quality and versatility of his entry, making Malachy Clerkin of the Irish Times our Sports Writer Of The Year.

Young - Niall O’ Connor

Judges citation: We are all too often told that journalism is dead: that the craft is no more; the skills are lost, and the twin urges to seek out the truth and present the facts in the public interest have been suborned to the interests of prurience and profit.
The judging panel in the Young Journalist of the Year category know this to be untrue.
The talent and range evident in the entries made judging this category difficult, but among the enormous variety, a small number stood out.
Old fashioned gumshoe journalism, investigations, public interest inquiries and the simple but neglected talent of finding a good story and presenting it in a manner both attractive and enlightening to the reader shone through in the shortlisted entries. Tellingly, many of those shortlisted were shortlisted in other categories also. Those are the ones to watch in the future.

The one most worth watching, however, is the winner in this category, Niall O’Connor.
For a young reporter to have conducted such investigations, nurtured such sources and broken such news bodes very well for Irish journalism.
Niall O’Connor’s entries transcend the daily news into becoming the first draft of history. Each of the three is a significant news story and each was achieved through careful management and building the trust of sources, and thorough investigation and corroboration.
The judging panel felt these stories were solid, fresh, and agenda-setting.

We are pleased to name Niall O’Connor Young Journalist of the Year for 2017.

Journalist of the year - Catherine Fegan

Judges citation: Citation for Journalist of the Year, Catherine Fegan, Irish Daily Mail

To emerge from the various categories as journalist of the year means you must be a very talented journalist indeed. You must love stories; be curious about people; obsessive about details that bring a story alive and write well. You must be the sort of journalist who gets out of the office to find great stories, who is accurate, researches well and is fair and sensitive.

This year’s winner is equally at home in rural Ireland, with loyalists in Portadown, with those who care for people with severe mental health issues, in Trumps America, or with a notebook in a court room. She 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 story telling. The journalist of the year for 2017 is Catherine Fegan of the Irish Daily Mail