Wednesday 18 May 2011

Orwell judge Martin Bright attacks 'disgrace' of young journalists having to work for nothing

Martin Bright, a judge in this year’s George Orwell Journalism Prize for political writing, attacked the culture of young journalists having to offer "free labour" to get a start in journalism, when announcing the winner of the award at a ceremony in London last night.

Bright, political editor of the Jewish Chronicle, said it was now "almost impossible" to break into journalism without friends and family contacts and having to work for free. "It's a disgrace, the quality of journalism is suffering because of the restricted talent pool," he said.

The Journalism Prize was awarded to Jenni Russell for her work in the Sunday Times and the Guardian. Russell’s winning selection included commentary and analysis on centralisation and control, class, Clegg, Brown’s bullying, prostitution and the lonely and disabled, and a call to tax those with free university degrees.

The judges said: "Jenni Russell was the stand-out journalist in an outstanding field. Her empathy for the world beyond Westminster gives her writing an extra dimension often lacking in political insiders. There is an overriding humanity to her work, whether she is covering the death-throes of the last Labour government or the birth-pangs of the Coalition."

The Orwell Prize for blogging went to Graeme Archer, for his blog on ConservativeHome.

Archer, described as "a 41 year old, civilly-partnered vegetarian Tory who lives in Hackney and is mildly obsessed with swimming," is the first Orwell Blog Prize winner writing under his own name, rather than a pseudonym.

His winning posts covered everything from the coalition government to the controversy over a gay couple being turned away from a B&B, via competitive sport and open primaries.

The judges said: "Graeme Archer is a blogger with wonderful elegance and clarity. Whether he writes on party politics or just about what he sees around him in Hackney, he is sharply observant and invariably thought-provoking. His posts are engaging or disconcerting in turns, regardless of the political views of the reader. Graeme Archer is, in the unanimous verdict of the judges, the one blogger who did most last year to make good political blogging into an art."

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