Slugger Awards: Journalist of the Year…

This is open to all journalists who have contributed to the political health of Northern Ireland, whether writing for any of the local newspapers, nationals, or working as a freelancer. The last year has been a tough for purveyors of political news: not least since for 150 days plus last year that the Executive did not actually sit.

It’s been a frugal year for politics, when journalists have had to be resourceful and begin to find ways to educate their audiences about what representative democracy entails. Not just here but also at Westminster, and perhaps most notably in the year of European elections.So who has helped throw light onto an increasing complex and at times arcane political set up? Asking tough questions is part of it, yes. But who was it who brought clear and accurate stories and/or analysis?

With your nominations, please try to include:

  1. His or her best qualities as a journalist?
  2. What you think they have achieved in the last 12 months?
  3. Why they came ahead of the rest of the field?

You can make your nominations beliw. Be as expansive as you wish, so we can make the best pitch possible to both the reader and judges panels who may not be as familiar as you with your favoured candidate. Remember these are nominations. The pressure is to determine who is best, rather than the worst…

  • Sam Semple

    Surely there’s only one contender?

    David Gordon at the Belfast Telegraph for persisting in exposing local politicians on the financial take (in 2009, expenses and double jobbing).

    Qualities as a journalist:

    Tenacious, and unafraid to take on the DUP (and by implication Carter Ruck)

    Achieved in the last 12 months

    Nearly the end of double jobbing, despite the fierce resistance of Sammy Wilson

    Why they came ahead of the field

    No other local journalist made serious headway on exposing double jobbing and expenses misuse by local politicians.

  • Nomnomnominator

    Suzanne Breen at the Sunday Tribune

    1. His or her best qualities as a journalist?

    She’s fearless and takes on the stories others won’t. She also gets to the human heart of the news. She’s not afraid to upset the political applecart which is a much needed quality in a field shaped mainly by the desire of most to be ‘helpful’ to the peace process instead of informing their readers.

    2. What you think they have achieved in the last 12 months?

    Winning in court against the PSNI thereby safeguarding the protection of sources was a high point.

    3. Why they came ahead of the rest of the field?

    Breen consistently goes after stories outside the mainstream rote of regurgitated press releases and does the spade work to get the real story, with a special focus on the people behind the news.

  • Neil

    Breen also.

    1. She’s done the leg work to get the stories. She has potentially risked her freedom and her life to provide ordinary folk with a view to the workings of the dissers.

    2. Her protection of journalistic integrity, and helping to prevent the PSNI gaining control of journalism generally. Had the PSNI won, unnamed sources would be a thing of the past.

    3. She came in ahead of the rest of em due to the fact that she stuck her neck out, again risking either your life or your freedom in the name of your stories is a big gamble, one which I feel many benefited from. Give her her dues she took the risks and she won. Fair dues.

  • Mark McGregor

    Breen and Gordon are the only two that come to mind for me.

    Gordon for yet again getting down into the detail and holding the political class to account.

    Breen for looking into areas that many including the PSNI would prefer are denied the oxygen of publicity.

    Personally I’d like Gordon to get the award again so that kind of investigative grunt work is encouraged but feel Breen must be the winner as her court fight was about a broader journalistic principle on protecting sources and she did risk gaol time for doing the right thing.

    Heck, I’ll be controversial and suggest the prize is split.

  • Mick Fealty

    GREAT. And I am very glad those two names have come up… But… there ARE more than two journalists in Northern Ireland.

    And there has to be other metrics other than investigation by which to judge the craft. I can think of others, but since I am chair of the judging panel, it ill behoves me to make suggestions.

    It needs must come from you…

  • Mick Fealty

    BTW, It’s been mentioned that I may have given the impression this is about print journalism, and not other forms (tv, radio, online)… Please take it from me that it is best journalist regardless of the format…

  • Pete Baker

    Worth remembering that journalism encompasses more than simply the written word, important though that is.

    My nomination goes to Julia Paul for her consistently high-quality video reports for BBC NI’s Hearts and Minds.

    We’ve been fortunate enough to have been able to document those reports up until recently. And you can find examples of her work in our archive.

    I’ll pick out some particular examples for the purposes of this nomination.

    On the power of political satire [both locally and internationally].

    The lost art of “The Troubles”.

    The relationship between the NI Executive and the European Union.

    The economic climate ahead.

    On NI’s non-jury trials.

    And, from June, on the re-emerging discussion on parades.

    I’ll stop there, but there are many others.

    Consistent intelligent illumination of a number of varied subjects.

    In a field in which even the broadcasters themselves seem determined to treat such reporting as mere ephemera, that consistency and high-quality deserves recognition.

  • GGN

    Eoghan O Néill, Nuacht 24

  • Mick Fealty

    Agus cén fáth? I nGaeilge má is mian leat!

  • GGN


    Cuireann sé féin agus cupla daoine eile nuachtán maith ar fáil gach seachtain ar líne gan deontas!

    Tá an mhéad cheanna scríofa aige féin ar chaighdeán ard iriseoireachta agus Gaeilge is a bheadh ag duine eile ar thuarastal.

    Ar son sin amháin bheadh sé tuilte aige ach silím go bhfuil aitheantas ar leith tuilte aige as agallaimh maithe a dhéanamh.


  • Seimi

    Aontaím le GGN. Tá Eoghan ag déanamh obair iontach, gan deontais. Tá, agus bíonn i gcónaí, caighdean den chéad scoth i Nuacht24 (fiú sna píosaí beaga a scríobhaim féin ó am go ham!)

  • Mick Fealty

    Just got a call this morning nominating Brian Rowan, for his consistent quality and focus on policing and justice in the Belfast Telegraph.

    We wanted to give people more than one way to nominate this year, but the primative nature of our web platform made that problematic.

    If you prefer to email me nominations for any of the categories, drop me a line at and I will copy your text up on the appropriate category thread.

  • Chris Donnelly

    I’d second both Rowan and Paul’s nominations for reasons given above.

    I’d also single out Simon Doyle in the Irish News, who continues to make headlines with educational stories beyond the obvious transfer issue.

  • RG Cuan

    Eoghan Ó Néill

    If he wrote in English he’d be heralded as one of Ireland’s finest current affairs journalists.

  • Corrina Langelaan

    Mark Davenport for consistent, balanced and insightful reporting. He may not grab all the headlines, but his style, level of understanding of all situations and ability to get to the heart of any story in an easy to follow and personable way make him a journalist well worth recognising.

  • I would like to nominate Barry McCaffrey from the Irish News,in particular for his reports on the Paul Quinn Murder.

    A brilliant journalist.

  • salem

    Suzanne Breen at the Sunday Tribune – cause she has the story, the evidence and the balls to take on the PSNI & the PIRA – and win !!!

  • Mark Rainey

    Donna McCusker might not be a household name but she deserves to be.
    As the East Belfast Herald went into an increasingly downward spiral, Donna took on more and more responsibility for making sure a paper hit the stands every week. Working, quite literally night and day, she kept the dream of an independent cross-community weekly paper alive when others would have buckled under the strain.
    As the number of staff dwindled, Donna increased her work-rate to almost physically impossible levels.
    I know she is greatly missed by all who engaged with the EBH during its short life and it is a tragedy that the decline in print media has left Donna patiently waiting for her next post.
    She has a fantastic nose for a story and a dogged determination to see it through to the end. If anyone has a few back issues of the EBH, just look at the variety and sheer quantity of stories Donna produced in 2009.
    In the face of such adversity – she totally deserves her mention.


  • Sally Kennedy

    What about the Belfast Telegraph’s education correspondent Kathryn Torney? I would like to nominate her for both the Sit Down Sort It Out campaign as well as her more general education and academic selection coverage.
    Kathryn takes a sometimes very complicated and many times very dry issue and breathes life into it. She can boil transfer row issues down for readers, is tenacious in challenging and questioning politicians (particularly Ruane) and never runs out of avenues to explore on behalf of the reader. Kathryn gives you everything you need to know about education in NI, whether you’ve kids or not.
    In the last 12 months, she has provided unrelenting, reliable and campaigning education coverage.

  • Mike Rolf

    Rod Liddle, at the Spectator-among others, for highlighting the petty bigotry and parochialism of the irish…

  • Dont be nosy

    I’d second Pete’s nomination for Julia Paul. Hearts and Minds is a consistently strong programme, thanks in no small measure to Julias reports.

    Topical, interesting and none of the repetitive, un-original rubbish we get from others, always entertaining and regularly thought provoking.

    Worth rememembering that her reports in particular help the show appeal to people and make politics a bit more accessible to people who maybe arent as politically minded as people who read and write on this site.

  • cryinginthewilderness

    Julia Paul has been excellent this year for all the reasons above, Gerry Moriarty of the Irish Times has been consistently good and enhanced NI coverage south of the border.

    Parroting the barely veiled snobbery of the grammer school sector does not a good journalist make – so this is a no vote for Torney at the Belfast Telegraph.

    While David Gordon has continued to work hard at the Belfast Telegraph I dont think that he can match people such as Paul and Moriarty for broader political coverage.