Judges hailed Mr O’Brien as a “writer with real flair”, and said he was a deserved recipient of the Irish Examiner-sponsored award.
Mr O’Brien won for an investigative story published in the Gay Community News.
RTÉ stars Kathryn Thomas and Dáithí O Sé hosted the annual awards ceremony — known as the Smedias — at the Mansion House in Dublin last night.
The big winners on the night were Trinity College Dublin, which scooped the most prizes overall.
Aoife Crowley won a hat-trick of awards, being named Editor of the Year and also taking Magazine of the Year and Layout/Design of the Year titles.
Karl McDonald was named Features Writer of the Year and won Magazine of the Year with Ms Crowley.
Tom Lowe won Overall Journalist of the Year and Trinity’s University Times won Newspaper of the Year. David Lynch completed the Trinity collection by winning Short Story of the Year.
DCU also performed strongly with Mr O’Brien winning the national press category, while Denis McEvoy and Alan Regan won both Website of the Year and Radio Production of the Year.
Keavy O’Sullivan from University College Cork was the proud winner of the Colour Writer of the Year title.
There were more than 1,500 entries for this year’s awards, which are organised by Oxygen.ie. Its managing director Colman Byrne said the awards “help inspire students to work to the best of their ability”.
“In the current difficult economic climate, working in media has become even more competitive. Winning a Smedia is a way for aspiring media stars to stand out from the crowd.”