Local Ireland, the association representing local news publishers across the country, has launched its annual Media Awards.

Entries are being sought across 17 categories with an additional category for Lifetime Achievement being nominated by the Local Ireland executive.

This will be the ninth edition of the awards and the seventh to be sponsored by the National Lottery, who have their own special category for Best Community Story.

National Lottery Head of Corporate Affairs Jennifer Crowe said: “We are incredibly proud of our continued association with the Local Ireland Media Awards that recognise the top-class journalists and media professionals who tirelessly serve our local communities.

“The power of local media and local storytelling cannot be taken for granted as it plays such a pivotal role in inspiring, informing and transforming communities, values which we at the National Lottery recognise and champion through the funding raised for thousands of Good Causes across Ireland.

“Local media outlets champion the stories that would otherwise remain untold, shedding light on the extraordinary individuals, events, and initiatives that shape the fabric of our society. We look forward to celebrating the exceptional work of local media.”

President of Local Ireland and Head of Irish Times Regionals Dan Linehan said: “Local Ireland is delighted to have the National Lottery onboard for the awards.

“The awards are a chance to recognise and highlight the role of local publishers in their communities and showcase the best of local journalism. The National Lottery are ideal partners for the awards as a national brand and one that supports almost every community in Ireland.”

Chair of the judges, author and broadcaster Alison O’Connor, said: “It is an honour to chair the judging panel for the Local Ireland Media Awards. The awards are all about recognising the very best of the work done in the newsrooms of regional newspapers across the country. The quality shines though in the many entries submitted.”

This year’s awards will include three new categories – for Best Headline, Best Diversity Journalism and Best Sustainability Journalism.

Executive Director of Local Ireland Bob Hughes said: “I am delighted that we have added three new categories to our awards and would like to welcome to the judging panel, novelist and newspaper columnist Dr Martina Devlin, award-winning journalist and Policy Editor of the Business Post Daniel Murray and Deputy Night Editor of the Irish Sun Gerry McCarthy.

I also want to thank our returning judges for offering their expertise once again.”

The judging panel also includes broadcaster and journalist Dearbhail McDonald, Emeritus Professor at TUD Michael Foley, Dawn Wheatley of DCU School of Communications, Managing Director of Kinetic Ireland Andrew Sinclair, photographer and former Irish Times Picture Editor Frank Miller, broadcaster and writer Valerie Cox, and journalist and author PJ Cunningham.

Entries for the awards close on June 28 with nominations announced early August.

Winners will be declared at a gala event at Mullingar Park Hotel on Thursday September 19th. The event will be hosted by Lyric FM presenter and Eurovision guru Marty Whelan.