Messy politics a winning formula in Press Pass awards

Former Press Ombudsman John Horgan commends journalism with ‘gift of prophecy’

Emma Flanagan from Our Lady’s College Drogheda: overall winner of the Press Pass awards. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / The Irish Times

Emma Flanagan from Our Lady’s College Drogheda: overall winner of the Press Pass awards. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / The Irish Times

 

There is only one reason people read the second paragraph of a newspaper article, former press ombudsman John Horgan told the fourth annual Press Pass awards yesterday.

Commending the winner of the competition, transition year student Emma Flanagan of Our Lady’s College, Drogheda, Prof Horgan said her article had demonstrated the only reason to continue reading: the first paragraph had been interesting.

Ms Flanagan’s’s article began with the words: “Politics is a mess.”

Also, Prof Horgan said the writer “ seemed to have been endowed with the gift of prophecy” because the article, entitled The Politics of Apathy, had been written and judged before the general election, and had “captured a public mood even before it had been expressed in the ballot box”.

Literacy and critical thought

The Press Pass awards, which aim to encourage literacy and critical thinking among transition year students, are organised by NewsBrands Ireland and sponsored by the Irish League of Credit Unions.

Since the awards started in 2012 some 60,000 transition year pupils have benefited “at a time when young people have become accustomed to the convenience and concision of texting and tweet-speak”, Minister of State at the Department of Education Damien English told the ceremony.

Benefit of journalism

Mr English said he could see the benefit of journalism – even if he did give out about journalists “behind their backs” – as the work of elected officials “needs to be scrutinised”.

“Journalism, newspapers, hold us to account, and also help us to get our message out. People often cite headlines or bits of stories at canvassers,” he said, adding that people should go beyond the headline and “find out the full story – the real story”.