Shortlists announced for Orwell Prize for political writing

The Observer and The Independent dominate the shortlist for this year's Orwell Prize for political journalism, with two nominations each.

The Observer's Henry Porter – who is also UK editor of Vanity Fair and co-founded the Convention on Modern Liberty last year – is joined by colleague Catherine Bennett in the nominations.

The paper also had two nominees for last year's prize, Andrew Rawnsley and Mary Riddell, but the prize went to The Independent's Johann Hari.

At The Independent, Patrick Cockburn, who also writes for the London Review of Books, is nominated alongside colleague Donald Macintyre.

Cockburn has been a Middle East correspondent since 1979, and has written four books on the history of Iraq.

Macintyre - not to be confused with Donal Macintyre, the investigative reporter who recently appeared on ITV1's Dancing on Ice - has been The Independent's Jerusalem correspondent since 2004.

Completing the list is the Mail on Sunday's Peter Hitchens, and Peter Oborne, who writes for the Daily Mail, comment magazine Prospect, and makes documentaries for Channel 4's Dispatches.

Hitchens has worked for the Mail on Sunday since 2001, when he left the Daily Express after it was bought by Richard Desmond.

Oborne is a former political editor of The Spectator, and has also won the William Hill Sports Book of the Year for his autobiography of the cricketer Basil D'Oliveira in 2004.

For the first time, the Orwell Prize also features a prize for political blogging. Andrew Sparrow, Guardian.co.uk's senior political correspondent, is on the shortlist alongside BBC Newsnight's Paul Mason.

Nick Davies' journalism expose Flat Earth News, which made the book longlist, did not make the shortlist.

In total, there were 198 books nominated, 63 journalists, and 83 bloggers – a record number of entries.

Orwell Prize director Jean Seaton said: "The Orwell Prize exists to reward those who come closest to Orwell's ambition 'to make political writing into an art' and to enthuse the public about good political writing.

"There are books, journalists and blogs that didn't even make this year's longlists that I would highly recommend, which says a great deal for the artful, informative and challenging political writing on this year's shortlists.

"It is especially important, when the newspaper industry is writing headlines about itself daily of job losses and falling profits, to celebrate some of the best examples of journalism.

"These journalists show the difference that going and seeing and thinking can make."

The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on 22 April at the Foreign Press Association in London. Winners receive £3,000 each.

The prize was established by Sir Bernard Crick in 1994, with money from the Orwell Trust and Political Quarterly. The Media Standards Trust became a partner in 2008.

Thomson Reuters, the literary agency AM Heath, and George Orwell's son Richard Blair also sponsor the prize.

Journalism prize shortlist
Catherine Bennett - The Observer
Patrick Cockburn - The Independent, London Review of Books
Peter Hitchens - The Mail on Sunday
Donald Macintyre - The Independent
Peter Oborne - Daily Mail, Channel 4 Dispatches, Prospect
Henry Porter - The Observer

Blog prize
Alix Mortimer - The People's Republic of Mortimer
Andrew Sparrow - Guardian Politics Blog
Chekov - Three Thousand Versts of Loneliness
Iain Dale - Iain Dale's Diary
Jack Night - Night Jack
Paul Mason - BBC Newsnight Idle Scrawl

Book prize
Andrew Brown - Fishing in Utopia
Tony Judt - Reappraisals
Owen Matthews - Stalin's Children
Hsiao-Hung Pai - Chinese Whispers
Ahmed Rashid - Descent Into Chaos
Mark Thompson - The White War

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