In an age when young people have become accustomed to the convenience and concision of texting and tweet-speak, newspapers can help today’s students to develop comprehensive reading, writing and critical thinking skills that will benefit them throughout their lifetime.
That was the message delivered at this week’s Press Pass awards ceremony, the fourth annual newspapers-in-education initiative for Transition Year classes, run by NewsBrands Ireland and sponsored by the Irish League of Credit Unions.
The overall winner of the 2015 Press Pass awards was Emma Flanagan from Our Lady’s College in Drogheda for a piece entitled “The Politics of Apathy.” In describing the article, the Chairman of the judging panel, Professor John Horgan, said “the writer seemed to have been endowed with the gift of prophecy, because this article, written – and indeed judged – before the general election, captured a public mood even before it had been expressed in the ballot box. “Politics”, it began, “is a mess.” “
Trophies were also awarded in five other categories including Features, Opinion, News, Sport and Photojournalism.
Presenting the winning students with their awards, Damien English, the Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, said: “Press Pass is a positive initiative that can benefit Transition Year students in a variety of ways, not only by improving literacy skills and helping to prepare them for the Leaving Cert English course but also by developing a greater understanding of the world we live in.
“Newspapers are an excellent teaching tool and we commend NewsBrands Ireland for providing them free of charge to participating schools.”
Speaking at the awards ceremony in the Convention Centre, NewsBrands Ireland Chairman, Vincent Crowley, said that the standard of entries in this year’s competition demonstrated the huge level of commitment by both students and their schools to Press Pass, as well as the educational power of newspapers in the classroom.
“Once again this year’s entries are of an exceptional standard and what’s really coming through is a sense of enjoyment and love of words,” said Mr Crowley. “The winning entries demonstrate a confident grasp of language and literacy that will stand to the students whatever they choose to do in life.”
Launched in 2012, it is estimated that almost 60,000 Transition Year students from schools around the country have now taken part in Press Pass, which has enjoyed the full support of the Department of Education since its inception.
The programme seeks to improve literacy skills and awareness of news media by providing free national newspapers, along with a guidebook also free of charge, to participating schools. Students are encouraged to analyse and interpret a range of newspaper content, then enter their own journalism in a national competition. The winners are selected by a panel of newspaper editors and journalists, chaired by Professor John Horgan, the former Press Ombudsman. The Press Pass awards are sponsored by the Irish League of Credit Unions.
Commenting on the 2015 programme, Brian McCrory, President of the Irish League of Credit Unions said: “We are very proud to support Press Pass, which offers a range of exceptional benefits to participating schools and students. Reading newspapers is an easy and enjoyable way to enhance one’s knowledge, and in that context Press Pass fits well with the ethos of Credit Unions.”
2015 Winners List
Over 7,500 students took part in the 2015 Press Pass competition, with an overall winner as well as awards presented across five individual categories.
Emma Flanagan – Our Lady’s College, Drogheda
1st – Karen Stapleton (Coláiste na Sceilge, Caherciveen)
2nd – Ali Cousins (St. Mary’s College, Naas)
3rd – Sarah Babiker (St. Mary’s College, Naas)
1st – Eoin Hartnett (Coláiste an Chraoibhín, Fermoy)
2nd – Aoife Ní Éalaighthe (Pobalscoil na Trínóide, Youghal)
3rd – Siobhan Ní Neachtain (Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne, An Daingean)
1st – Zachary Gillespie (St Columba’s Comprehensive School, Glenties)
2nd – Anna O’Neill (Loreto College, Foxrock)
1st – Ciarán Sheehan (CBS, Charleville)
2nd – Aoife Fennell (Donabate Community School)
3rd – Andrew Quinlivan (St Brendan’s College, Killarney)
1st – Lorraine Hanrahan (Presentation Secondary School, Castleisland)
2nd – Niamh Cronin (Presentation Secondary School, Ballyphehane)
3rd – Daragh Murphy (Coláiste Iognáid, Galway)