Chief business correspondent Brian O’Mahony and agribusiness correspondent Ray Ryan received the overall award, and John Behan’s magnificent bronze sculpture, The Bull, associated with these prestigious awards since 1976.
Their outstanding coverage in the Irish Examiner of the Dairygold Co-op redundancy and restructuring programme was the unanimous choice of the awards judges chaired by Brid Rodgers, Northern Ireland’s ex-Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development.
The Irish Examiner duo reported fully on Dairygold’s proposals to shed about 1,500 jobs, in news stories, feature articles and opinion pieces.
Irish Examiner editor Tim Vaughan welcomed the news of their award.
“I am delighted for Brian and Ray. This award is very well deserved and underlines our commitment to delivering unrivalled coverage of farming and agribusiness on a daily basis,” he said.
Their win comes less than two weeks after Irish Examiner journalists Conor Keane and Michael Brennan won the ESB National Media Awards for business news journalist of the year and young journalist of the year, respectively.
There were 50 entries for the Agricultural Journalism Awards, which are presented every two years for outstanding coverage of farming or rural affairs in national or local broadcast and print media.
Brian O’Mahony and Ray Ryan received their award from Brendan Smith, Junior Agriculture Minister at a ceremony in the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin.
Damien O’Reilly, Chairman of the Guild of Agricultural Journalists, said: “The role of the agricultural journalist remains an integral part of the broad media family. I wish to congratulate all the award winners and all those who submitted work for this year’s competition. Once again, the standard and quality of entries was outstanding.”
Brid Rodgers said, “The high calibre of entries in this year’s Guild awards is a clear indication that Agricultural Journalism in Ireland today is of a very high standard. The judges were particularly impressed by the standard of entries in the Young Agricultural Journalists category. It is evident that the future is bright, given the range of talent which emerged.”
THE full list of Agricultural Journalism Awards 2004 winners is:
: Brian O’Mahony and Ray Ryan, The Irish Examiner. Title: Dairygold series of new reports and features
: Mairead McGuinness, Ear to the Ground. Title: Food Safety
: Joe Barry, Farming Independent. Title: The grey squirrel
: Joanne Fox, Irish Farmers Journal. Title: The beef from who knows where
: Joe McDonald, Ulster Farmers Union. Title: We care campaign
: David Medcalf, Wexford People. Title: Rural living
: Seamus Farrelly, Farming Independent. Title: Maize Pattern
Award sponsor AIB also recognised Mairead McGuinness, MEP, presenting a special award for outstanding contribution to agricultural journalism.
Since becoming the first woman to graduate from Agricultural Economics in UCD, Mairead has written for the Irish Farmers’ Journal and the Farming Independent (as agriculture editor) and made a significant contribution to broadcast journalism, most notably as editor of Ear to the Ground, RTE’s rural affairs programme.