25 October 2012


It's hardly earth-shattering news, but the Orwell Prize has decided not to award a blogger next year. Its chair, Jean Seaton, explains in a piece on the Guardian's Comment is Free website here:
Blogging has evolved so rapidly over the past five years that it is no longer one thing. Many of our shortlisted bloggers have migrated to journalism, writing books and becoming (in ConservativeHome for example) political powers in the land. They have become insiders not outsiders. And as newspapers, periodicals, individual journalists and broadcasting have rapidly converged, everyone is a blogger now. As the press heads online, blogging is dissolving. While there is a community of independent blogging voices, their form has grown up. Blogging is no longer a thing but a glorious bouquet of things.
She's right about how blogging has become part of the mainstream media -- and I know how fraught the process of judging blogs has been for the Orwell Prize, a tiny outfit with minimal resources that puts on dazzling highbrow public events. (The most recent of them was last night's debate at the Frontline Club to launch the 2013 prize, which turned into a multi-expert and extraordinarily frank discussion of Muslim-Asian child sex abuse, though it was billed as being on policing.)

I'm sad, however, that the Orwell Prize has dropped its blog award. I don't have a dog in this race: I've been blogging 10 years but most of what I've posted for the past five is what I've written for dead-trees publications. I've been aware for rather a long time that blogging is firing out missives that will be read by very few people, even if you use Facebook and Twitter to publicise your efforts.

But ... self-publishing online is now established and important even if it ain't what we dreamed of in 2002. The best of it should be rewarded.

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