THE bombshell Anglo Tapes reports won scoop of the year for the Irish Independent today, one of seven gongs for the group at the NNI Awards.
Journalist Paul Williams picked up the award for Scoop of the Year which recognised the phenomenal national and international impact of the Anglo Tapes. The contents of the tapes were published in the Irish Independent, Sunday Independent and The Herald.
The recordings also won the NNI Digital Award for their presentation online by the Independent.ie team, together with Paul Williams, Fionnan Sheahan and Tom Lyons.
“We’re absolutely thrilled. It’s a tribute to the trusted journalism of the Independent brand, both in print and online. I’m absolutely delighted for all our individual winners,” said Stephen Rae, editor in chief of the Irish Independent, Sunday Independent, The Herald and Independent.ie.
Paul Williams told of his delight at the award: “I am really deeply honoured to have achieved these awards, especially in my new home in the Irish Independent. The Anglo Tapes would not have had the impact they had, I believe, if it was published in any other form apart from the Irish Independent,” he said after the ceremony.
Praising the Anglo Tapes, the judges said: 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 - Scoop of the Year."
Regarding its online presentation, the judges added: "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.
"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 Anglo Tapes."
Other Independent writers recognised were the Irish Independent’s Jason O’Brien, who won Best Foreign Coverage for his searing reports from inside war-torn Syria earlier this year.
The judges said: "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 Sunday Independent’s Barry Egan won Showbiz journalist of the year. The judges said: 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."
The Irish Independent’s Fiach Kelly was recognised as Political Journalist of the Year, with the judges impressed by his reporting on successive governments.
"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."
Kelly told his delight at the award: “Thanks to my colleagues and friends in the Irish Independent newsroom, the press gallery at Leinster House and especially the political staff in the Irish Independent.”
Eoin Butler won Best Feature Writer for his work in the Irish Independent and the Irish Times.
The Sunday Independent’s Neil Francis picked up the award for Sports Columnist
Kitty Holland of the Irish Times won National Journalist of the Year for coverage of the Savita Halappavanar tragedy while the Sunday World won for Best Design and Presentation.
A special award was presented posthumously to Kerry teenager 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, said Brendan O’Connor, who presented the award to Donal’s mother Elma and father Fionnbar.
“Donal, the Celestial Tiger, will forever burn bright in our memory for teaching us to value what we have - when we have it,”
Donal had actively campaigned against teen suicide before his death in May after battling cancer since 2008. He penned a letter outlining his battle with the disease and had called on teenagers to appreciate life in several interviews.