Sam Smyth, Ireland, is the only Irish journalist to twice win journalist of the year honors: in 1991 for his investigation into business scandals, and in 1997 for his exposure of a political scandal that led to the resignation of a government minister and ultimately the fall of the Irish “Rainbow Coalition” government in June that year.
Smyth revealed in December 1996 that multimillionaire businessman Ben Dunne, head of Ireland’s richest family, financed an extension to the home of the transport, energy and communications minister in the governing Fine Gael party. The minister resigned 36 hours after the story broke. A government inquiry later uncovered that Dunne had also given former Prime Minister Charles Haughey 1.3 million pounds over the years.
His book on the entire affair, Thanks a Million Big Fella, spent six weeks atop Ireland’s bestsellers’ list.
In addition to his journalism awards, Smyth was voted the “Journalists’ Journalist” in a February 1997 poll of more than 250 Irish newspaper reporters, organized by In Dublin magazine.
Read a Q&A with Smyth in ICIJ's Secrets of the Masters series.