‘Big Week on the Farm’ wins top agri journalism awards

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Eight Category Prizes Awarded Reflect Well Researched, Written & Produced Media Excellence

The Guild of Agricultural Journalists hosted its biennial awards and black tie dinner on Friday evening (4th November, 2016) in Dublin’s Castleknock Hotel & Country Club. Supported by FBD Insurance, the awards aim to encourage excellence in the coverage by media of farming, food and rural life on the island of Ireland.

‘Big Week on the Farm’, an Independent Pictures production, broadcast live over five nights by RTÉ television during April 2016, is the overall winner of the Agricultural Journalism Awards for 2016. John Cummins, Independent Pictures, collected the coveted ‘Bull’ prize, a once-off John Behan sculpture commissioned in the 1960s by the Irish Dairy Board (now Ornua), which was donated to the Guild of Agricultural Journalism for the awards.

The judging panel, Chaired by Alan Dukes, commended Big Week on the Farm, as a top-class portrayal of farming life, “throbbing with the energy of live television, interspersed with colourful scenes and high levels of practical involvement that made educational and entertaining viewing. And all of this was exemplified by the enthusiasm and personality of the host farmer, John Fagan.”

Speaking at the Awards Ceremony Oonagh O’Mahony, Chair of the Guild of Agricultural Journalists (IFP Media) said that the biennial Agricultural Journalism Awards are a special occasion for the agri-media.     “The agri-food industry has an important place in the country’s economic and social fabric, which we, as an industry are committed to covering,” said Ms. O’Mahony.  “These awards honour the hard work and dedication of our peers to delivering quality reporting; and are an opportunity for us to celebrate excellence in a specialist market.”

She congratulated all those who made the shortlist for the Agricultural Journalism Awards. “In particular I wish to congratulate the winners of The Bull. Big Week on the Farm took the nation by storm this year. It was a tremendous endeavour and is a very deserving recipient.”



Provided an engaging menu of science and nature, farming and food, escapism and entertainment. It clearly struck a chord with viewers both young and old drawing an audience of 1.5 million and extending its reach into social media and other broadcast programmes, engaging with the excitement and drama of springtime on the farm.

Filmed on John Fagan’s busy mixed farm in Gartlandstown, Crookedwood near Mullingar Co Westmeath,  Aine Lawlor and Ella McSweeney hosted each night’s broadcast with guest presenters including Nathan Carter, Anna Geary, Roz Purcell and Mairead Farrell. The lively format covered topics ranging from badgers and bees to driverless tractors, it linked to farms in other parts of the country such as a salmon farm in Donegal, featured challenges like ‘Pull the Udder One’, monitored lambing on the farm and featured a world record-breaking sheep shearing challenge with Ivan Scott.

The series was produced by Independent Pictures and broadcast by RTÉ with a team including Conor Moloney and Liam Lavelle. It was supported by Science Foundation Ireland and the Sound and Vision Fund of Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.



Alan Dukes, Chairman of the judging panel for the Agricultural Journalism Awards, said that the excellence of the entries in all categories underlines the quality of agricultural journalism throughout the island of Ireland. The judges expressed their particular appreciation of the quality and depth of coverage provided by regional and local media, often with limited resources.

“Farming, the agri-food sector and the research community have powerful communications tools at their disposal, thanks to the dedication of members of the Guild of Agricultural Journalists,” said Mr. Dukes.

Guild Chair, Oonagh O’Mahony paid tribute to the judges who were tasked with reviewing over 200 nominations across the full spectrum of media from online to printed feature articles, which were published, broadcast or implemented in either Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland.

The judging panel included: Chair Alan Dukes, Public Affairs Consultant and former Government Minister; Sheila Reilly, Editor, Longford Leader; Ray Ryan, former Agricultural Correspondent, Irish Examiner; Joe O’Brien, former Agricultural Correspondent, RTÉ; Dr. Pat Wall, Professor of Public Health, UCD; and Richard Wright, former Agricultural Correspondent, BBC Northern Ireland.
The Category Winners in the 2016 Agricultural Journalism Awards are:

Best Print News Article:  IFA – Crisis to New Beginnings, News Team, Irish Farmers Journal

The judging panel commended the top print news article category winner for its comprehensive coverage by a team of journalists of the most significant story in Irish agriculture in recent years as it broke and developed with major consequences for the country’s largest farming organisation.


Best Print Feature Article: Cowtown Revisited, Declan O’Brien, Farming Independent,

The judges commended the category winner, Cowtown Revisited, as a well researched and well written account of a landmark institution, the Dublin cattle market, which reminded people of its importance not only to the beef trade but also to the life and economy of the city centre.


Best TV Programme/Story: Big Week on the Farm, Conor Moloney/Liam Lavelle, Independent Pictures/RTÉ

The judges’ commendation quotes that Big Week on the Farm brought the realities of life on the land into living rooms around the country in highly memorable and highly informative scenes and interviews that attracted huge viewing figures for the series.


Best Radio Programme/Story: Whose Land Is It Anyway? Aisling O’Brien, Radio Kerry

The category winner, Whose Land Is It Anyway? Is a great example of the power and effectiveness of a well researched and well produced radio programme getting to grips with the practicalities of life on the land and the attachment people have for it.


Best Technical Article: On & Off Farm series, Peter Varley, Irish Farmers Journal,

The category winner, On & Off Farm, was a highly practical and educational series that demonstrated how farming and farm life could be improved and made more efficient in a series of articles that were well written and illustrated with clear instructive photographs.


Best Targeted Campaign: Agri Careers Fair, Mary Phelan, Irish Farmers Journal

The category winner, Agri Careers Fair, was a truly comprehensive campaign, right across the media, that promoted the opportunities offered in the agriculture and food sectors to a target group who responded by turning up in huge numbers to explore the possibilities.


Best Photograph: One Girl and Her Dog, Valerie O’Sullivan, (Published Irish Farmers Journal, 13th February 2016)

The winner, One Girl and Her Dog, is proof, if it was ever needed, of the old saying that a good picture is worth a thousand words.


Best Online: The IFA Pay Scandal, Agriland Team, Agriland

The category winner, IFA Pay Scandal, demonstrated the effectiveness of a well run website in keeping people up to date with an evolving crisis, from the initial breaking of the story to its development, taking in resignations, legal actions and elections along the way. Proof of the power of the net for news.



The judging panel also Highly Commended the following shortlisted nominations for excellence:

Print News Article:

·         Who’s Telling Porkies?,  Mark Tighe, The Sunday Times

·         IFA Crisis, Louise Hogan, Darragh McCullough & Team, Farming Independent

Print Feature Article:

·         60 Years of Clare IFA, Dan Danaher, Clare Champion

·         Farm Safety – Victim Interviews,  Patrick Donohoe, Irish Farmers Journal

TV Programme/Story:

·         Rural Crime, Helen Carroll, Ear to the Ground, Agtel/RTÉ

·         High Steaks, Fran McNulty, RTÉ

Radio Programme/Story:

·         60 Years of IFA – Damien O’Reilly & Frances Shanahan, Countrywide, RTÉ Radio One

·         Here Comes the Rain Again, Gavin Grace, Clare Fm,

Technical Article:

·         Useless Pedigree Bulls Cost Farmers Millions, Irish Farmers Journal, Kieran Mailey

·         The Future Is Bio, TResearch, Teagasc, Laura Devaney/Maeve Henchion

Targeted Campaign:

·         Elanco Blowfly Campaign, Cormac Farrelly, Agriland

·         Safety First When It Comes to Quads, Bernie Commins, Irish Farmers Monthly/IFP


·         Flooded Land – Ray Ryan (Tuam Herald, November 2014)

·         Three Amigos – Chris McCullough (Belfast Telegraph, May 2016)


·         IFA Presidential Hustings and Election Day, News Team, Irish Farmers Journal

·         Reaching the Joyce Farm in Floods, Michael Moroney, Irish Farmers Journal


Join the conversation @AgriGuild #AGRIAWARDS www.agriguild.ie

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