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Timely, accurate journalism more important than ever – Law Society
Winners outside Blackhall Place

22 Jun 2022 / law society Print

'Timely, accurate journalism more important than ever'

Announcing the winners of the 2022 Justice Media Awards (JMAs), the Law Society has said that accurate and timely journalism has never been so important in this country.

“We have a long history of championing the highest standards of legal journalism, and we are grateful to celebrate excellence in Irish journalism again this year,” the Law Society said today (22 June). 

The JMAs celebrate the important role journalists play in society, breaking down barriers, shaping discourse, and helping to uphold standards and accountability in the public domain.

This year saw a record 277 entries across 15 award categories, which included two new categories – podcast and environmental/climate justice reporting. The first-ever published shortlist totalled 106 entries.

The purpose and goal of the awards are to promote the highest standards in legal journalism, and to foster greater public understanding of the law, the legal system or a specific legal issue.

The Law Society expressed its sincere congratulations to all of the 2022 winners, and thanked all who entered.

“The calibre of the stories we read, heard and watched makes clear that legal journalism in Ireland is of a truly excellent standard,” the organisers said.

“We look forward to next year’s event, when we can continue to recognise the best in legal journalism,” the Law Society concluded.

Overall winners

The overall winners of the Justice Media Awards 2022, from the print and online daily journalism category, are Mary Carolan and Simon Carswell for their Irish Times article, ‘Inside the District Courts’.

This year’s overall winning entry was earmarked as an excellent piece of journalism, long before it reached the Justice Media Awards. 

Highlighting ongoing issues within the Courts Service, this article offered unique insights and access to the judiciary. To achieve this access, it is clear that trust had been established, and that the reputation of the journalists preceded them. 

Sunday media

The JMA in the Print/Online Journalism (Sunday) category goes to Peter O’Dwyer of the Business Post for his excellent article: ‘Pandemic losses case – the pub, the patrons and the Premier League thriller’, which was a series of articles about the landmark business interruption test case between FBD and publicans.

The judges said: “This was an in-depth examination of the issues surrounding the crucially-important business interruption test case. The scale of legal content and the impressive dissection of the legal arguments in the case stood out.”

Three merit certificates are awarded to:

  • Barry J Whyte for his Business Post special report: ‘The rise of paedophile hunters: heroes or misguided amateurs?’,
  • Catherine Sanz for her Business Post special report: ‘How the justice system fails victims’, and
  • Michael Doyle of the Irish Sun for his special report: ‘History of DNA in Irish criminal trials’.

Local radio

The Justice Media Award in the Broadcast Journalism (local radio) category goes to Daniel Considine, Kevin McGillicuddy, Anne Norris, Kevin McDermott, Joe Finnegan and Tommy Stenson of Shannonside FM for their series of reports: ‘Making and breaking the law’.

One merit certificate is awarded to Sinéad Hubble, Ellen Butler, Robert Fahy and Will Faulkner for their Midlands 103 special report: ‘Making a will’.

The judges praised a digestible exploration of key legal issues that affect listeners in all aspects of life, from understanding the criminal justice system to answering questions on key legal rights.

“This series of reports goes to the heart of the Justice Media Awards criteria. This is public-service journalism that explains legal issues clearly, and increases our collective understanding of the law. It is encouraging to see regular legal features across local radio,” the judges said. 

The Justice Media Award for Human Rights/Social Justice Reporting (print/online) goes to Maria Delaney and Michelle Hennessy of Noteworthy and TheJournal.ie for their report: ‘Revolving door: Traveller women imprisoned for minor offences such as driving without tax’.

The judges said: “This story highlighted the abuse of the law and the social impact this has on Travellers in the justice system. By giving a voice to a minority group within society, this is a textbook example of why this category is important. A top pick.”

Two merit certificates are awarded to:

  • Jenny Friel for her Irish Daily Mail special report: ‘Bloody Sunday – 50 years seeking justice’,
  • Shamim Malekmian for a Dublin Inquirer special report: ‘Dozens of migrant children have gone missing while in the State’s care in recent years’.

Student journalism award

Now in its second year, the Student Journalism category recognises emerging talent and the future of legal journalism. 

The Justice Media Award goes to Kinga Piotrowska, Natasha Lynch, Shauna Ledwidge, Jane Moore and Carenza Rock of TheJournal.ie for ‘Two years on: Ireland is ‘failing to act in spirit’ of agreement to help women escaping domestic violence’.

“This four-month investigative article focuses on the lack of refuge for women fleeing domestic violence in Ireland. And it is on par with any established professional quality journalism today. It clearly highlights how Ireland is worryingly contravening the Istanbul Convention, and is doing important work by highlighting this issue in the public domain.”

One merit certificate is awarded to Ellen O’Regan of FLIRT FM for her special report: ‘Back to Bunreacht’.

Daily journalism

The Justice Media Award winners in the Print/Online Journalism (Daily) category are:

  • Mary Carolan and Simon Carswell of The Irish Times for ‘Inside the District Courts’.

The judges said: “These seasoned journalists have delivered yet another piece of public-service journalism that broadens our understanding of the District Court.

“This detailed exploration of the work of the District Courts includes valuable insights from key figures, and highlights the growing resourcing issues facing the Courts Service. It was a standout piece.”

Two merit certificates are awarded to:

  • Rónán Duffy for his Journal.ie report: ‘FactCheck: does Irish law allow for ‘gender-selection abortions’?’
  • Shane Phelan for his Irish Independent special report: ‘The Quinns win ‘right to be forgotten’.’

National radio broadcast journalism

The Justice Media Award winner in this category is Frank Greaney for his special report on the Today FM Dermot & Dave Show – ‘Sub judice: what can and can’t be said when a case is live’.

The judges said: “This special report examines the rule of sub judice and the importance of obeying it in the wake of Ashling Murphy’s murder.”

“This seasoned journalist has, once again, thought outside the box with his legal reporting to clearly explain the concept of sub judice and the consequences of failing to follow it.

“By delivering this report on an entertainment show, the report has reached a younger audience base and, crucially, has increased the public’s understanding of this legal concept. This approach should be applauded.”

Three merit certificates are awarded to:

  • Katie Hannon and Tom Donnelly for their RTÉ Radio 1 special report: ‘Women of honour’,
  • Brian O’Connell for his Today With Claire Byrne on RTÉ Radio 1 special report: ‘Domestic violence during COVID’,
  • Nicoline Greer, Ronan Kelly and Liam O’Brien for their RTÉ Radio 1 special report: ‘Documentary On One: GunPlot’.

TV and video broadcast journalism

The Justice Media Award goes to Medb Johnstone, Ann Ní Chíobháin, Mike Keane, Derek Pelly and Joe Edwards of Midas Productions for their TG4 documentary: ‘Misneach – Tom Clonan’.

The judges said: “This Irish language documentary details the response of a whistleblower’s research, which uncovered a culture of discrimination, harassment, bullying, sexual harassment and sexual assault directed at female members of the Defence Forces.”

“This captivating story was told in an exceptional way. It was digestible and covered issued that are still prevailing today.”

Five merit certificates are awarded to:

Frank Shouldice, Kieran Dineen, Matt Naughton, Martin Vale and Paul Maguire for their RTÉ Investigates special report: ‘Wardship – the decision-makers’,

  • John Downes, Mick Peelo, Eanya Gallagher, Darragh Byrne and Sean Mac Giolla Phádraig for their RTÉ special report: ‘Crimes and Confessions’,
  • Mostafa Darwish, Mostafa Younis and Omar Emam for their Irish Examiner special report: ‘Death in direct provision’,
  • Miriam O’Callaghan and Samantha Bourke for their Prime Time special report, ‘The McGinley tragedy’,
  • Seán Dunne, Claire Brock and Joan McKenna for The Tonight Show on Virgin Media special report: ‘Surrogacy legislation ‘urgently’ needed in Ireland’.

Human rights and social justice reporting (broadcast)

The Justice Media Award winners are Barry O’Kelly, David Doran, Ann Kiernan, Paul Maguire and Darren Chan of RTÉ Investigates for ‘Domestic Abuse – A Year of Crisis’.

The judges said: “This is an extraordinary documentary that details the increase of those seeking help in escaping abusive partners. The story highlights the recently enshrined crime of coercive control, and spotlights outreach services available.”

“Amplifying the voices of the victims made for considered and emotive storytelling, all the while examining the bigger legal issues at play here. This piece highlights the lack of places victims can go when suffering from domestic abuse. This was a stand-out piece.”

Two merit certificates are awarded to:

  • Mairead Twohig for her 96 FM and C103 special report: ‘Sanitary products “They should be free’,
  • Laura Fletcher, Magnus Kelly, Stuart Halligan, Rob Reilly, Cliona Higgins, Eimear Boyle and Will Lett for their RTÉ news special report: ‘Afghanistan: fleeing the Taliban’.

International justice reporting

The Justice Media Award winners are Roisin O’Dea, Nicoline Greer and Peadar Carney for their podcast: ‘Documentary on One: L’Agression’.

The judges said: “This was an excellent podcast that told the story of an Irish woman who was brutally attacked in her home in Paris

“Detailing this heart-wrenching and dramatic story, the podcast format leaves the listener gripped on the secrets and lies told, and questioning who to believe. It is a story of courage and resilience that focuses on the victim of crime.”

One merit certificate is awarded to: Fearghal O’Connor for his Sunday Independent special report: ‘Unravelling the web of Irish connections behind the Dolphin property collapse’.

Local print and online journalism

The Justice Media Award winner is Ronan Dodd of the Tipperary Star for his reporting on: ‘The criminal system and mental health’. 

The judges felt that: “This classic reporting shone a light on how mental illness collides with the criminal-justice system. It is excellent reporting on a serious and relevant issue, which is not covered much elsewhere. A stand-out winner.”

Two merit certificates are awarded:

  • Ciara McCaughley of the Roscommon Herald for her special report: ‘Roscommon woman recounts 20 years of coercive control to help others’,
  • Laoise Neylon of the Dublin Inquirer for ‘Tenants can’t take their landlords to the RTB because they can’t find them’.

Court reporting, print and online

The Justice Media Award winner is Isabel Hayes of The Irish Times for reporting on the ‘Munster abuse trial: “It was the quietest house ... there was nothing”.’

The judges felt: “This was a harrowing and disturbing long read, but it was crucial that the story was covered. Demonstrating high-quality, exceptional journalism, the content stuck with the judges for days on end.”

Four merit certificates are awarded to:

  • Catherine Fegan for her Irish Independent special report: ‘Kevin Lunney takes the stand in abduction trial’,
  • Declan Brennan for his Irish Times special report: ‘My name is Aisling’,
  • Shane Phelan for his Irish Independent report: ‘Anatomy of a fraud: “How I stole €1.1m from charity Bóthar”,’
  • Stephen Breen for his Irish Sun series of court reporting.

Environmental and climate justice reporting

The first-ever winner of this Justice Media Award is Laura Roddy for her article in The Currency titled, ‘From project to planning and policy: what the battle for Belview means for industrial development’. 

The judges said: “This long-form article provides a detailed explanation into how an An Taisce challenge fits into an ongoing trend in Ireland, and globally, of climate activists challenging environmental policy through individual projects.

“The journalist includes significant legal content, and tackles a story that will likely become more prolific over time. Similar cases will be significant for lawyers in this area going forward. 

A merit certificate goes to Sarah Taaffe-Maguire for her Business Post special report: ‘The amount of renewable energy declared by providers is substantially higher than official figures’.

Broadcast journalism (podcast)

The Justice Media Award goes to Catherine Sanz, Peter Leonard and Mark Tottenham of the Business Post for their series: ‘Law on Trial’.

The judges said: “Discussing topical subjects in a straightforward manner offers deeper understanding of complex legal issues, as well as access to guests who are influential in the legal world. It’s timely and relevant”.

Two merit certificates are awarded to:

  • James Leonard, Timothy Long and Rowan Meegan for their Two Norries podcast: ‘The reality of coercive control and domestic violence’,
  • Joseph O’Callaghan, Ian Maleney, Jane Gogan, Nicola Tallant, Niamh Corcoran, Brendan Jenkinson, for ‘The Witness: in his own words’. 

Newcomer of the year

The Justice Media Award goes to Lauren Boland of TheJournal.ie for her articles ‘Employers’ legal responsibilities in the return to workplaces’, ‘Anti-LGBT+ legislation in Hungary’, and ‘Climate legislation in Ireland’.

The judges said: “This newcomer produced an excellent body of work on a diverse and engaging range of topics. She has a clear talent for explaining legal concepts well. She writes like a veteran.”

Four merit certificates are awarded:

  • Patrick O’Donoghue of The Times Ireland,
  • Conor Courtney of Irish Legal News,
  • Danny De Vaal of The Irish Sun,
  • Robert Fahy of Midlands 103.
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