Amelia Gentleman wins journalism prize at Orwell Awards

The journalism prize at this year’s Orwell Awards went to The Guardian’s Amelia Gentleman.

Daily Mail US editor Toby Harnden won the book prize for Dead Men Risen: The Welsh Guards and the Real Story of Britain’s War in Afghanistan. And a memorial prize was awarded to Christopher Hitchens’ widow Carol Blue presented by his brother – the Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens.

In a release the award organisers said:

This is the third consecutive year that Gentleman’s work has been shortlisted for the Journalism Prize. Her pieces consistently explore the most difficult places in our society: the Britain of benefit fraudsters, benefit dependents, the carers of our elderly, and institutions for young criminals. It is an unsparing gaze yet she is always delicate and respectful of the individuals within these – often malign – systems.

This year’s Journalism Prize judges were Brian Cathcart (journalist, winner of the Orwell Prize for Books 2000 forThe Case of Stephen Lawrence, professor of journalism at Kingston University) and Ian Hargreaves (former editor of The Independent, former director of BBC News and Current Affairs, professor of digital economy at Cardiff University).

The judges said:

An early reader of Down and Out in Paris and London praised George Orwell’s ‘true picture of conditions which most people ignore and ought not to be allowed to ignore”. The 2012 Orwell prize winner for journalism paints just such pictures for our times.

Amelia Gentleman’s beautifully crafted examinations of hardship, welfare and justice for the Guardian bring us almost painfully close to subjects that are too often ignored, and they do so with cool, sharp powers of observation.’

This year’s blog prize went to Rangers Tax-Case, a blogger attempting ‘provide the details of what Rangers FC have done, why it was illegal, and what the implications are for one of the largest football clubs in Britain”.

The winning posts investigated the financial scandal surrounding Rangers Football Club. The judges said:

The 2012 Blog Prize showed that not only could blogs comment on current events, they could drive stories forward. Rangers Tax-Case takes what might be a dry topic – the tax affairs of a sports team – and shows how a striving for transitory success has severely distorted sporting, legal and ethical boundaries.

Displaying focused contempt for those who evade difficult truths, and beating almost every Scottish football journalist to the real story – Rangers Tax-Case shows how expertise and incisive writing can expose the hypocrisies the powerful use to protect themselves from the consequences of their actions.

It is a worthy winner which not only proves that independent blogging is as healthy as it ever was, but also offers a mirror in which our times are reflected.’

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