'Irish Independent' writers scoop top journalism awards
The Irish Independent scooped two top prizes yesterday at the inaugural National Newspapers of Ireland Journalism Awards ceremony.
Martina Devlin was selected Columnist/Commentator of the Year, while Fiach Kelly of the paper's political staff, was named Young Journalist of the Year.
The awards, organised by the National Newspapers of Ireland (NNI), are the first of their kind, and were presented at a gala lunch attended by Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte.
The judges commended Ms Devlin's "engaging writing style, along with her unique ability to tackle a wide range of topics with an authoritative voice".
"Her columns make powerful reading. From the horror of war, to a callous killing that shocked the nation, or life in modern Ireland, they are hard-hitting, but always touch the reader because they are written from the heart," they said.
"By bringing personal experience to her columns, Martina Devlin always makes a powerful statement and touches a chord with readers."
A delighted Ms Devlin said: "I was only thinking this morning on how I stumbled into journalism. From the age of five to 20, I wanted to be Shirley Bassey, a nun, a Donegal farmer's wife, an astrologer and a 'Blue Peter' presenter. However, after my 20th birthday, a light bulb went off and I thought, 'What about journalism?'"
The judges praised political correspondent Fiach Kelly for his "energy, passion, flair, and initiative."
"This journalist also has an old-fashioned nose for a story, and a network of contacts to put older hacks to shame."
Mr Kelly said he wanted to acknowledge the support he had received from family and work colleagues over the years.
"I'd like to thank my editors, my family and the political staff in the 'Indo'. I'd also like to thank my friends in the newsroom and in the press gallery at Leinster House.''
Yesterday's event, which was attended by journalists from all the major Irish titles, attracted an unprecedented 546 entries.
Frank Cullen, of the NNI, emphasised the importance of the print industry in the Irish media world, stating: "It is only proper that its top journalistic talent should be recognised in this way."
Judging panel chairman, 'Belfast Telegraph' MD Michael Brophy, emphasised the enduring importance of in-depth reporting and analysis, which is uniquely provided by the newspaper industry.
A special Outstanding Contribution to the Newspaper Industry Award was made to recently retired 'Irish Times' editor, Geraldine Kennedy.
The judging panel included Independent managing editor Michael Denieffe, Fintan O’Toole, assistant editor of the Irish Times, Sunday Times and Irish Daily Mail columnist Brenda Power, journalist P.J. Cunningham, Michael McNiffe, editor of the Irish Sun, Aine Hegarty of the Irish Mirror, James Laffey, editor of the Western People, Tim Vaughan, editor of the Irish Examiner, and Noirin Hegarty, editor of independent.ie.
The winners of the 2011 Journalism Awards are:
Young Journalist: Fiach Kelly ( Irish Independent)
Columnist/Commentator: Martina Devlin (Irish Independent)
National Journalist: Simon Carswell (Irish Times)
Regional Journalist: Colette Brown (Wexford Echo)
Best Design: Irish Examiner
Feature Writer: Kathy Sheridan (Irish Times)
Business and Economics Journalist: Tom Lyons and Brian Carey (Sunday Times)
Political Journalist: Miriam Lord (Irish Times)
Scoop of the Year: Senan Molony (Irish Daily Mail)
Critic of the Year: Patrick Freyne (Evening Herald/Sunday Tribune)
Sports Journalist: Kieran Shannon (Irish Examiner/Sunday Tribune)
Showbiz Story: Jennifer O’Brien (Irish Sun)
Newspapers in Education: People Newspapers ‘Transition Year Project’
Outstanding Contribution to the Newspaper Industry: Geraldine Kennedy (former editor of the Irish Times)