Cork student named overall winner of 2019 Press Pass awards

John Flynn wins award for opinion piece on scouting as 16 students are recognised for their original journalism

A student from Co Cork has been named the overall winner of the 2019 Press Pass awards.

John Flynn from Coláiste an Chraoibhin in Fermoy picked up the prize on Monday for an opinion piece on scouting.

More than 10,000 transition-year students took part in the annual NewsBrands Ireland Press Pass initiative, with 16 students recognised for their original journalism.

The programme was launched seven years ago and seeks to improve news literal and critical thinking skills among students.

The winners were selected by a panel of editors and journalists, chaired by Michael Foley, professor emeritus of journalism at Dublin Institute of Technology.

“While it was so very difficult to pick an overall winner, at the end there was near unanimity,” Mr Foley said.

“The winner showed an engagement with the subject, wrote with assurance and maturity and made a strong argument. The subject matter was something the writer knew about intimately and in terms of journalism it was topical and controversial.”

For the duration of the programme, participating schools receive newspapers, a specially created workbook and a teacher’s lesson plan. Students are encouraged to engage with the newspapers in the classroom, to analyse them and to create their own original journalism, the best of which was entered into the competition.

Trophies were awarded in five categories – features, opinion, news, sport and photojournalism.

NewsBrands Ireland chairman Vincent Crowley said participation in the programme is growing every year.

“Irish newspapers are the voice of the people, their communities and their regions,” Mr Crowley said.

“We rely on the journalists to tell us what is happening in the world – and why. And we rely on young people like our talented finalists gathered here today to continue the tradition of writing and reporting the news, uncovering truths and separating fact from fiction.”

NewsBrands Ireland Press Pass 2019 winners

Overall winner

John Flynn, Coláiste an Chraoibhín, Fermoy


1st: Jessica Moir, Moville Community College, Co Donegal

2nd: Maria Finnegan, Our Lady's School, Terenure

3rd: Leah Getkate, Pobailscoil Chorca Dhuibhne, An Daingean


1st: Sophie Rosenau, Pobalscoil na Tríonóide, Youghal

2nd: Seamus Ó Loingsigh, Pobailscoil Chorca Dhuibhne , An Daingean

3rd: Weronika Piasecka, Scoil Dara, Kilcock


1st: Alice Larkin, Coláiste Muire, Ennis

2nd: Aisling Ní Chonchúir, Pobailscoil Chorca Dhuibhne , An Daingean

3rd: Shane Roche, Scoil Mhuire Gan Smal, Blarney


1st: Chloe Coughlan, Jesus & Mary College, Goatstown

2nd: Matthew Hogan, Pobalscoil na Tríonóide, Youghal

3rd: Ellie Raftery, Mount Sackville, Chapelizod


1st: Rebecca Keane, Coláiste Muire, Ennis

2nd: Leah Phelan, Coláiste Pobail Osraí, Kilkenny

3rd: Radisha Fernando, St Mary’s Secondary School, Macroom

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times