Journal Media investigative series named winner of 2021 Mary Raftery Prize

The Noteworthy series was described by the judges as superb investigative journalism.

By Diarmuid Pepper

A JOURNAL MEDIA investigative series has been named the winner of the 2021 Mary Raftery Prize for social affairs journalism.

Maria Delaney, Michelle Hennessy, and Cormac Fitzgerald of Noteworthy and have won the award for “Tough Start: Is the Opportunity Gap for Traveller Children Ever Going to Close?

The series delved into the uphill struggle facing Traveller children in healthcare, education, accommodation and justice across seven articles, a podcast and live event.

It also marks the third Mary Raftery Prize in a row for Journal Media

The Mary Raftery Prize is awarded to an individual or a small team responsible for social affairs journalism produced on the island of Ireland which combines the “rigorous analysis and commitment to social justice that characterised Mary Raftery’s journalism”.

Mary Raftery wrote a weekly column for The Irish Times from 2003-2009, focusing on a wide range of items including child abuse, human rights, women’s rights and mental health.

She contributed articles to the paper until her death in 2012.

Prior to this, Raftery worked with RTÉ and she is perhaps best known for producing States of Fear and Cardinal Secrets.

The Prize is funded by a bequest from the Mary Raftery Journalism Fund and is sponsored by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.

It is administered by the School of Communications, Dublin City University which appoints an independent panel of judges composed of experienced figures from journalism and civic society.

Judges Professor Mary Corcoran of Maynooth University, Pat Brennan (formerly of The Sunday Tribune), and Maeve Lewis (One in Four) described “Tough Start” as superb investigative journalism.

The judges praised the series for “working hard to gain the trust of the Traveller community” and for “uncovering issues that are not widely known”, including reduced school days and over-representation of Travellers in prison.

The series was also praised for its “excellent use of graphics, official sources, and expert opinions (from within the Traveller community)”, as well as its “narrative extracts from discussions with children”.

The Journal’s Órla Ryan was also shortlisted for the 2021 Mary Raftery Prize for: “Destruction and Disregard of Personal Testimony by the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes”.

Órla Ryan is also the presenter of Redacted Lives, a six-part documentary series about mother and baby homes, telling the stories of women and children who passed through the system.

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