AN FOCAL, the students’ union newspaper at University of Limerick, has won student newspaper of the year in the TV3 Media Awards, announced last week on the station’s Tonight with Vincent Browne programme.
The fortnightly publication, which was revamped this year, was nominated for the award by members of the public and competed against publications from other third-level institutions, including Trinity College Dublin and Dublin City University.
Editor Finn McDuffie said he received a call from TV3 a few hours before the announcement was made on air, and didn’t realise that had An Focal was being considered for the prize.
“Finding out An Focal had won was a wonderful surprise and came straight out of the blue”, said Mr McDuffie, a Cavan native, who is also the students’ union communications officer.
He paid tribute to the team of voluntary student contributors who produce the fortnightly newspaper.
“This is really such fantastic news for them, especially the editorial team and regular contributors, because it means all their hard work has been recognised at a national level. Also, it’s a great victory for UL. Contributions this year have been vast and generally of high standard,” he said.
An Focal is distributed on the University of Limerick campus and has been in existence since 1992.
The publication has also won the People’s Choice award in the national student media awards on two occasions in recent years.
Minister of State, Peter Power, with responsibility for overseas development, sent his congratulations to the team. Awards were also presented for Newspaper of the Year, Book of the Year, Journalist of the Year, Story of the Year, and Picture of the Year.
The Irish Daily Star won newspaper of the year, beeating the Sunday Business Post, Irish Examiner and Irish Independent.
Irish Times columnist Fintan O’Toole was voted journalist of the year, while the paper’s cartoonist Martyn Turner was recognised with an outstanding contribution award.
The Irish Times marine correspondent Lorna Siggins was winner of the book of the year for her book on the Corrib gas controversy, Once Upon a Time in the West.
David McWilliams took story of the year for his work on the global financial crisis.
The judges were TV3 presenter Sinéad Desmond, broadcaster Ivan Yates, DIT journalism lecturer Harry Browne and Marie Moran, an equality lecturer at UCD.