Ewan, who previously worked with the Sunday Tribune, was honoured for a three-part series he wrote on the important role of sports clubs in socially deprived parts of the country.
The citation for Ewan’s award said for a chosen few their craft came as a gift of nature with the Irish Examiner reporter “falling firmly into that category”.
“Acknowledged from an early stage for his unique penmanship and fearlessness in identifying and tackling issues of the day, he has made an effortless transition from Sunday to daily writing by bringing the same compulsive narrative and observational insight to a wide range of subjects,” it continued.
Irish Examiner sports editor Tony Leen expressed delight with the award — the second year in a row that the newspaper has won a major honour for its sports coverage at the NNI awards.
“The award is a vindication of what we are trying to do with good quality sports writing. In the future it is what will distinguish newspapers from other media as people still enjoy a good sports read,” said Mr Leen.
The overall award for National Journalist of the Year was a collective effort by the Irish Independent’s presidential election team for their exclusive stories on last year’s election campaign.
Chairman of the judging panel, Michael Brophy said the reports by Fionnán Sheehan, Fiach Kelly, Michael Brennan and Cormac McQuinn had shone a light into the dark recesses of the nation’s body politic.
Two special posthumous awards were made, for their contribution to the newspaper industry, to former Sunday Independent editor Aengus Fanning and sports writer Con Houlihan, who both died earlier this year.
Michael O’Farrell (Irish Mail on Sunday) won the Scoop of the Year for revealing the secret video of members of Seán Quinn’s family in Russia, while the Irish Daily Star scooped Headline of the Year for “Tiocfaidh Ár Lámh” for the historic handshake between Queen Elizabeth and Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness.
Other award winners were: Marisa Reidy (The Kerryman) — Regional Journalist; Nicola Tallant (Sunday World) — Crime and Security Reporter; Eileen Battersby (Irish Times) — Best Critic; Miriam Lord (Irish Times) — Political Journalist; Ian Kehoe (Sunday Business Post) — Business and Economics Journalist; Dermot Bolger (Irish Daily Mail) — Best Commentator; Justine McCarthy (Sunday Times) — Best Columnist; Jennifer Bray (Irish Daily Mail) — Young Journalist; Eamonn Sweeney (Sunday Independent) — Sports Columnist; Philip Nolan (Irish Daily Mail) — Best Feature Writer; and Alexandra Ryan (Irish Mail on Sunday) — Showbiz Journalist.
The Irish Independent won an award for Newspapers in Education while the Irish Daily Mail was honoured for Best Design and Presentation.
NNI chairman Matt Dempsey said the awards highlighted how nothing came close to newspaper journalism.
“More people are reading newspapers than ever before and that is a testament to the quality of newspaper content,” said Mr Dempsey, who also called for the Government to include a dedicated minister for media at Cabinet level.