It was announced tonight that the much respected Orwell Prize will this year have a best blog category for the first time. Why should this matter? Because I think it is a real recognition that blogging has made a bit of a breakthrough and is being taken seriously not just in the political world, but the literary one too. If any bloggers would like to enter, or blog readers would like to nominate a blog, here's how to do it.
The Special Prize for blogs, like the Book Prize and Journalism Prize, will reward those who come closest to achieving George Orwell’s ambition ‘to make political writing into an art’. It is one of the first political blog prizes in the UK and Ireland, and the first to judge the quality of writing. Bloggers can enter 10 of their posts on the Orwell Prize website, Members of the public can suggest bloggers, and discuss blogging, in discussion forums on the site. Ian Jack (journalist, former editor of Granta and Independent on Sunday) and Ferdinand Mount (writer, novelist,former policy adviser to Margaret Thatcher) will form the Book Prize jury, with Jenny Abramsky (former Director of BBC Audio and Music, Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund) and Geoffrey Wheatcroft (journalist, writer) judging the Journalism and Blog Prizes. Both juries will merge to choose the shortlists and winners of all three Prizes after selecting a longlist in each category. Director of the Orwell Prize, Professor Jean Seaton, said: ‘The global crisis we are in is not just one of markets, but one of understanding; a cognition crunch, not just a credit crunch. In such times the need for a prize that rewards clear writing and clear thinking about politics is more urgent than ever.’ On the Special Prize for Blogs, Professor Seaton commented: ‘This year, we started blogging Orwell’s diaries and it has ricocheted all over the world. So it’s only natural that we want to give a prize for the kind of blog writing that Orwell would have appreciated.’ Submissions will close on 14th January 2009. The longlists will be announced on 25th February 2009, the shortlists on 25th March 2009 and the winners on 22nd April 2009.
The thought of being nominated for an Orwell Prize has an ironic appeal for me, so I suppose I had better see if I can find ten blogposts worth submitting. Feel free to remind me of any you may remember!