‘Irish Examiner’ journalist scoops top awards

Irish Examiner special correspondent Michael Clifford has won the award for journalist of the year.

He was named 2016 NewsBrands Ireland Journalist of the Year in Dublin yesterday.

In a double achievement, he was also awarded Broadsheet Columnist of the Year.

Mr Clifford was the only journalist to take home two awards yesterday.

Emeritus Professor of Journalism at Dublin City University, John Horgan, chair of the judging panel, presented Mr Clifford with his overall award.

‘Irish Examiner’ special correspondent Michael Clifford with his Journalist of the Year and Broadsheet Columnist of the Year awards at the NewsBrands Ireland Journalism Awards 2016 at the Mansion House, Dublin. Also pictured, from left, are Irish Examiner executive production editor David O’Mahony, sport editor and deputy editor Tony Leen, acting editor Allan Prosser, CEO Tom Murphy, and former editor Tim Vaughan. Pictures: Colm Mahady

“The difficulty with deciding on Journalist of the Year is that you’re not just comparing apples and oranges, you’re comparing them with all sorts of other exotic fruit: Features and news, broadsheets and popular papers, scoops and series, sports and crime, columnists and reporters, they’re all in the mix and properly so,” said Prof Horgan.

“That said, I think the person who emerged from this process as the overall winner is a journalist who has demonstrated, that although he is a winner in only one category, he will be equally at home in several others.

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald presents the award to Michael Clifford. Also pictured are Vincent Crowley, NewsBrands Ireland, and Dermot Griffin, chief executive of Premier Lotteries Ireland.

“And this because in everything he does, commentary, analysis, exposés — he is driven by the three basic characteristics of good journalism in any paper on any topic and at any age: evidence, accuracy, and fair-mindedness... and good writing of course.”

Broadcaster Matt Cooper, who hosted the awards, paid a special mention to Mr Clifford, describing him as a “fantastic journalist”.

Other categories in the awards were Front Page of the Year, Headline of the Year, and Scoop of the Year.

Front Page of the Year was won by the Herald newspaper for its report of the Regency hotel shooting. The front page carried a photo of two men, dressed as police officers, walking into the hotel with the headline ‘Hotel Killers’.

Scoop of the Year went to the Sunday World for its coverage of the shooting, with a story called ‘Dress to Kill’, which was a firsthand account of the attack.

The award for Investigative Journalism went to Peter Murtagh in the Irish Times

for his long-form articles. Young Journalist of the Year was awarded to Sean Dunne of the Irish Mail on Sunday.

An Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald was the guest speaker in the Mansion House yesterday and said journalists play an in important part in protecting our democracy.

“Journalists play a key role in enhancing transparency and accountability,” she said.

Commenting on the upcoming review of Irish defamation legislation, she said that balance must be sought in public discourse.

“It’s important that we do strike the right balance between two important rights, the right to freedom of expression in a democratic society and the right to protect your good name and reputation against unfounded attack,” she said.

“In politics and in journalism words are our most important tool.

“It was Orwell who maintained that the slovenliness of our language makes it is easier for us to have foolish thoughts.”

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