The Irish Times wins six categories at NewsBrands Journalism Awards

Naomi O’Leary, Lara Marlowe, Keith Duggan and Kathleen Harris among winners

Irish Times Europe correspondent Naomi O’Leary won the political journalist of the year award at the 2021 NewsBrands Irish Journalism Awards on Thursday.

In total, the Irish Times took six awards at the annual ceremony across politics, features, sport, business, arts and video journalism.

Ms O’Leary was credited for her reporting on Phil Hogan’s downfall from the EU Commission last year, as well as other stories from her base in Brussels.

The online ceremony heard that Ms O’Leary revealed Phil Hogan’s resignation as EU Commissioner was not as a consequence of him breaking Covid-19 rules but because the drip of revelations appeared to show Hogan had misled Commission president Ursula von der Leyen in his narrative of events at the now infamous Oireachtas Golf Society dinner in Clifden, Co Galway last year.


Fellow Irish Times journalist and Paris Correspondent Lara Marlowe took the award for best broadsheet feature writer, while Keith Duggan was presented with broadsheet sportswriter of the year.

Ms Marlowe was described as having an ability to write “about the deeply personal as well as writing illuminating features on diverse topics”.

Video-journalist of the year recipient Kathleen Harris was praised for her tenacity in gaining access to healthcare facilities during the pandemic “to tell essential stories of what was going on behind closed doors, not only in the initial phase but also reporting on what the second surge of Covid was doing to hospitals”.

The arts and criticism, and business journalism categories were secured by Irish Times journalists Patrick Freyne and Joe Brennan respectively.

In all, the Irish Times newspaper and website had been nominated for 30 awards across 14 categories.

Role of reputable news

Minister for Media Catherine Martin said the awards recognised the “immense contribution” the profession made to Irish society.

"Journalism, at its best informs us as citizens, engages us a society and challenges us as public representatives," she said. "We have seen in real time during the global pandemic the significant role of trusted, reputable news sources and this is to the forefront in Ireland where the work of this sector has been crucial in combating disinformation."

The most coveted prize, journalist of the year, was shared by Aoife Moore and Paul Hosford of the Irish Examiner, whose revelations of the infamous Oireachtas Golf Society dinner in Galway last year, as the country was struggling with strict Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, captivated public attention.

NewsBrands awards chairman Tim Vaughan, a former editor of the same newspaper, described the story as “one of the great, great scoops” with a political fallout unequalled in recent times.

“[The story] sparked a stunning cocktail of utter disbelief and incandescent fury,” he said. “Immediately it was like a political bomb going off such was its impact and the raw public rage that it sparked.”

As well as the journalists of the year, the Irish Examiner won in five other categories. Aoife Moore and Paul Hosford also took the scoop of the year prize, and the newspaper won for campaigning journalism; best front page; digital news coverage; and investigative journalism.

The annual awards are open to NewsBrands Ireland industry members working across print, online, video and audio and this year included entries dating from July, 2020 to June, 2021.

Eligible entries are from journalists “ordinarily working in Ireland” or from those working in newspapers and websites published in Ireland, or for Irish editions of newspapers published outside the State.

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times