Sunday, 29 March 2009

The Orwell Prize

There are so many reasons for giving up The Independent: the fact that Miles Kington is no longer around, the descent into red-top territory with sex-orientated articles in the magazine and excessive coverage of celebrities (who is this "Lily Allen"?), not to mention Simon Carr. Then one is reminded of the good journalism that this is paying for. Patrick Cockburn and Donald MacIntyre have both been shortlisted for the journalism section of the Orwell Prize 2009. Patrick Cockburn was also on the long list in the books section for his "Muqtada al-Sadr and the Fall of Iraq".

Blogs were added (rather tardily, some might think) to the Orwell Prize roster last year. The People's Republic of Mortimer tops the 2009 shortlist. It seems that this is on alphabetic grounds, but if there is any justice Alix Mortimer should be on the winners' rostrum at least, when the judging is over. For me, at least three of the blogs should be ruled out straight away as being part of institutions. Orwell was always an outsider, and always personal. He may not have approved of Alix's rococo prose*, but he would certainly have approved the power and conviction of her writing. There does seem to be a high regard for liberal democracy at present, helped by Vince Cable's persona and our MPs' standing apart from the general allowance-claiming culture, which may work in her favour. (We'd better make the most of it; when the date of the general election looms, the big money and the big media will swing behind the conservative parties.)

Later: I see Chris Dillow has struck a sour note.

* For those who didn't catch the reference in my comment to the Mortimer blog, it was to Orwell's "Politics and the English language". Personally, I love both simple and ornate, multi-layered, writing. It's the in-between which bores me.

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