independent

Thursday 19 April 2018

Sorcha wins Regional Journalist of the Year

The Sligo Champion reporter Sorcha Crowley has been named Regional Journalist of the Year at the 2017 NewsBrands Ireland Journalism awards.

Sorcha picked up the award at a ceremony in Dublin's Mansion House last Thursday 2nd November for "a good news story well told" about IT Sligo researchers using mirror therapy to help stroke patients move again.

In his address to over 400 guests, President of Local Ireland Frank Mulrennan said the strengthy of the regional press is its closeness to the communities it serves and giving a voice to those whose stories would otherwise never be told.

"At their best what regional journalists have is a unique understanding of local concerns and access to local sources," he said.

"The winner of the Regional Journalist of the Year recognised a piece of research being undertaken in the local Institute of Technology could have a ground breaking impact.

"She talked to the scientists involved in research using mirrors to trick the brain of stroke victims, to bring movement back to limbs that had ceased to function.

"The story quotes both the scientists and stroke victims and was written with care and without sensationalism," he said.

In her category, Sorcha was up against Dan Danaher of the Clare Champion, Kieran McCarthy of the Southern Star and Fintan Walsh of the Limerick Leader.

"In a time when the newspaper industry is being threatened by 'fake news' and online advertising, this award highlights the valuable role local journalists play in Sligo," said Sorcha after the ceremony.

"The entire team at The Sligo Champion as well as myself are dedicated to giving Sligo people a voice they wouldn't have otherwise through quality, reliable journalism," she said.

It's the second award Sorcha has won for her work this year: she won Best Feature of the Year 2017 at the Local Ireland National Media Awards in May.

The chair of the judging panel for the awards, Matt Dempsey, said the standard of the 1,400 entries received was higher than ever before, and that even to get nominated meant "you must be a very talented journalist".

Speaking before the awards, sponsored by the National Lottery, Communications Minister Denis Naughten said traditional media is even more important in the modern day with the rise of 'fake news' sources.

"The best way to deal with fake news is to support reliable content which is relevant and provides a trusted reference point for Irish audience, both local and national," he added.

Vincent Crowley, the chair of NewsBrands, the representative body for all national newspapers, print and online, said it was very important that journalism was protected by a legislative framework "that empowers journalists to do their work".

Mr Crowley also called for the appointment of a dedicated minister for media.

Broadcaster Matt Cooper was MC for the ceremony. Five other INM journalists won awards: Irish Independent political correspondent Niall O'Connor won Young Journalist of the Year, with Conor Feehan News Reporter of the Year.

Feature writer John Meagher won Business Story of the Year.

Martin Breheny won best Sports Story and Lynda McCarthy of the Sunday World won Popular Columnist 2017.

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