Student journalist wins Press Council award for articles on cancer patients

Council chair says ‘the sort of work journalists are doing will always continue to be needed’

A student journalist has been awarded a Press Council bursary for a series of articles on how cancer patients are treated in Ireland.

Muireann Duffy (21) won the €1,000 prize, which was established in recent years by the council and is open to work completed by third-level journalism or media students.

Duffy, who studied at University of Limerick (UL) and is now completing a masters degree in sports journalism at St Mary's University in Twickenham, London, said it was "lovely to get a bit of recognition".

Her entry was a series of articles written as part of her undergraduate thesis, which were submitted into the competiton by a lecturer.

She said the articles examined “what is being done currently to help cancer patients and survivors” from the mental health side of things.

Originally from Kilfenora in north Co Clare, Duffy said she was upbeat about pursuing a career in journalism despite the uncertainty facing the media industry.

“Starting off there is that kind of thing like ‘are you sure’ and it seems like an unusual career choice…It is possible to find a niche for yourself. People are very generous with their time and their contacts, so it’s just getting yourself out there and backing yourself,” she said.

The awards were presented in Buswells Hotel in Dublin on Friday by Seán Donlon, chair of the Press Council.

‘Somewhat concerned’

Mr Donlon said journalists and journalism students “must be somewhat concerned” about trends in the market.

“We all worry about the decline in circulation, the decline in advertising, and the decline in newspapers, and particularly local newspapers,” he said. “There is no doubt in my mind that the sort of work journalists are doing will always continue to be needed.”

The second place award was shared by Sarah Gallagher, a Dublin City University journalism masters student, and Coláiste Dhúlaigh student Janice Furphy.

Gallagher’s entry focused on a series of articles on transgender people in Ireland, while Furphy’s entry related to the 1981 Stardust disaster, in which 48 people were killed in a fire in a north Dublin nightclub.

NUI Galway journalism student Julia Tereno also received a commendation for her entry on candidates standing in the local elections in Galway.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is a reporter with The Irish Times