Congratulations to Wicklow man Niall O’Connor who picked up the “Young Journalist of the year” award this week.
The awards ceremony was held in Dublin’s Mansion House on Thursday.
Niall quickly made a name for himself as a crime writer with the Evening Herald, notching up over a 100 front page headlines before moving to the Irish Independent.
He is now classed as one of the top political writers in the country, not bad for a young man who was told during a interview with a local publication he would never make it in the world of media and would be better opting for another career.
Niall has also moved into the radio media and hosts the popular “Wicklow this week” which can be heard on East Coast FM, each Saturday at 9am.
Judges citation: We are all too often told that journalism is dead: that the craft is no more; the skills are lost, and the twin urges to seek out the truth and present the facts in the public interest have been suborned to the interests of prurience and profit.
The judging panel in the Young Journalist of the Year category know this to be untrue.
The talent and range evident in the entries made judging this category difficult, but among the enormous variety, a small number stood out.
Old fashioned gumshoe journalism, investigations, public interest inquiries and the simple but neglected talent of finding a good story and presenting it in a manner both attractive and enlightening to the reader shone through in the shortlisted entries. Tellingly, many of those shortlisted were shortlisted in other categories also. Those are the ones to watch in the future.
The one most worth watching, however, is the winner in this category, Niall O’Connor.
For a young reporter to have conducted such investigations, nurtured such sources and broken such news bodes very well for Irish journalism.
Niall O’Connor’s entries transcend the daily news into becoming the first draft of history. Each of the three is a significant news story and each was achieved through careful management and building the trust of sources, and thorough investigation and corroboration.
The judging panel felt these stories were solid, fresh, and agenda-setting.