Student wins newspaper award

Taoiseach Enda Kenny presents Fiachra O'Braonain with his award.  Also pictured are Matt Dempsey, NNI chairman (l) and Prof John Horgan, chairman of the judging panel. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times

Taoiseach Enda Kenny presents Fiachra O'Braonain with his award. Also pictured are Matt Dempsey, NNI chairman (l) and Prof John Horgan, chairman of the judging panel. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times

Wed, Feb 27, 2013, 00:00

A 15-year-old Dublin student has won the top prize in the National Newspapers of Ireland (NNI) Press Pass competition today.

Fiachra O’Braonain, a transition year student at Coláiste Cois Life, Lucan impressed newspaper industry judges with writing that "exemplified" good journalism in the inaugural competition to encourage reading and improve literacy and critical thinking among post-primary pupils.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny presented prizes to the 16 category winners and runners-up in the competition which saw free newspapers delivered to classrooms in 225 schools, or half of all transition year students.

Commending the industry body, the Taoiseach said the Press Pass programme would teach students how to "access, analyse and evaluate newspaper content".

Chairman of the NNI, Irish Farmers Journal editor Matt Dempsey said the competition enabled students to discover different language styles, to debate current issues and to become more critical of what they read and how they write.

"Newspapers get young people reading and the NNI Press Pass will help us to foster a strong relationship with the next generation of readers while helping them to become more informed citizens of a modern democracy."

Expanding the project, the newspaper body is now collaborating with Coláiste Chiaráin in Croom, Co. Limerick to develop a new journalism/media studies module. If successful, the course will become part of the Junior Cert curriculum from September 2014.

Addressing winning students and their teachers, press ombudsman and chairman of the judging panel Professor John Horgan said: "The best way to learn how to write well is to read well. If you read good writing, from your earliest years, you will subconsciously pick up a style and adapt it as your own. There is no short cut, no magic bullet: you have to read in order to be able to write."

Mr Horgan said Fiachra O’Braonain’s articles on developers and on the juvenile GAA bore all the hallmarks of good journalism - observation, to 'sift the wheat of significance from the chaff', the ability to "listen to the answers as well as to ask the questions", as well as speed accuracy, evidence, relevance and versatility.

"I love English," the teenager said after his win. He said he hoped to spend the remaining week of his transition year work experience at a newspaper.

"I’m very interested in journalism. I love reading and writing and I always read the papers."

The 2012 National Newspapers of Ireland Press Pass category winners and runners up are as follows:

Overall Winner: Fiachra O'Braonain, Coláiste Cois Life, Lucan

News

First: Helen McLoughlin, St Mary’s Secondary School, Ballina

Second: Liam Leahy, Marist College, Athlone

Third: Aoife O'Donoghue, Coláiste na Sceilge, Cahirciveen

Features

First: Sinead Kenny, St Mary’s Secondary School, Ballina

Second: Aine O Connell, Loreto Secondary School, Navan

Third: Eimear O'Shea, St. Mary's Secondary School, Macroom

Sport

First: Ann Marie Torsney, Loreto College, Swords

Second: Rachel Walsh, Our Lady of Lourdes Secondary School, New Ross

Third: Seán Flanagan, Maynooth Post Primary School, Maynooth,

Comment/Opinion

First: Greta Ryan, Our Lady of Lourdes Secondary School, New Ross, Co Wexford

Second: Ailbhe Ní hAlmhuiran, Gael Choláiste Chill Dara

Third: Stephanie Smith, Coláiste na Sceilge, Cahirciveen