Patrick Cockburn was last night awarded the Orwell prize for political journalism for his dispatches from Iraq and an article about his son’s slide into schizophrenia.
The journalism prize at the annual ceremony went to Cockburn for his articles in the London Review of Books – the first time the publication has produced an Orwell Prize winner – and the Independent newspaper.
The judges said his articles from the Middle East were “exemplary” in the way they untangled the political and social complexity of the situation there.
Orwell Prizes are awarded to works which the judges feel achieve the Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm author’s aim of making “political writing into an art”.
A police officer won the blog prize for his account of life at the front line of fighting crime.
Jack Night – not his real name – won the special award for blogs at the Orwell Prize ceremony for NightJack – An English Detective.
The blog, which is no longer updated, exposed the day to day trials and frustrations of dealing with criminals, the courts, bureaucracy and life on the beat.
The judges said: “The insight into the everyday life of the police that Jack Night’s wonderful blog offered was – everybody felt – something which only a blog could deliver, and he delivered it brilliantly.
“It took you to the heart of what a policeman has to do – by the first blogpost you were hooked, and could not wait to click on to the next one.”
In his final post, Jack Night wrote: “I don’t know if blogging changes anything.
“I do know that I am just a short lever in this world but it was worth a go on the off-chance that there were people reading that could deploy longer levers.”
Guardian journalist Andrew Brown won the book prize for Fishing in Utopia, a memoir of living in Sweden and exploration of the Scandinavian country’s social and political system.