Independent group scoops honours at journalism awards
Deputy Business Editor of the Sunday Independent Tom Lyons, along with journalists Gavin Sheridan, Paul Williams and Group Political Editor Fionnan Sheahan comprised the team that won the prestigious 'Digital Journalism of The Year' award for their coverage of the Anglo Tapes at the National Newspaper of Ireland Awards last Thursday.
Barry Egan of the Sunday Independent won the 'Showbiz Journalist of the Year' award.
Brenda Power, who awarded it, said that showbiz journalism was not merely a matter of writing about celebrities, but also about getting real human beings to open up and share their heartache and humanity.
Neil Francis of the Sunday Independent won 'Sports Columnist of the Year'. Awarding it, PJ Cunningham extolled Mr Francis's writing skill and above all his finely honed philosophy, often overlooked in sports journalism.
The after-dinner speaker was Mike Hume of the online magazine Spiked. His subject was freedom of the press and he deplored the fact that 61 journalists in England had been arrested post Leveson. He said a free press should not be regulated. He described the Right Honourable Justice Leveson as engaged in "ethical cleansing" and pointed out that a free press is neither tasteful, convenient or nice.
He praised the independence of the Office of the Press Ombudsman and the Press Council in Ireland and said that Justice Leveson would have better served journalism by taking it as a model.
Replying, MC Matt Cooper of Today FM and the Sunday Times, suggested that Mr Hume was looking at the Irish situation with rose-tinted spectacles.
All it takes to silence the press in Ireland, he said, is a rich man with a writ in his hand because in those circumstances newspapers have to make a calculation about whether to publish or not.
The late Donal Walsh was honoured by the NNI "for his outstanding contribution to public debate". Deputy Editor of the Sunday Independent Brendan O'Connor, presenting the award to Donal's mother Elma Walsh, said: "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."
Group head of news at Independent Newspapers and judge with the NNI Ian Mallon said that the achievements of the Sunday Independent, Irish Independent and Independent.ie demonstrated the quality of journalists in the group.
"We are extremely proud of all our winners and our nominees, and of the overall calibre of journalism.
"We continue to be the agenda setters with such great stories as the Anglo Tapes, and all the other excellent news and sports category winners."