Political blogging to be recognised by Orwell Prize

Britain’s prestigious political writing award, the Orwell Prize, will include blogs for the first time.

There are 83 eligible entries.

The BBC has some interesting interviews about blogging, its role in politics, and what Orwell may himself have made of it all.

Charlie Beckett, director of the Polis think-tank, believes that the blogosphere has matured, although Shane Greer, executive editor of Total Politics magazine, divides blogs into four broad categories.

“You have to bear in mind that you have thousands and thousands of blogs of a very low quality,” he said.

The first, large group are “truly awful”, followed by well-written, in-depth blogs that only appeal to a small, technically-minded community.

More general blogs offer the opportunity to comment, while “attack blogs” simply snark at everyone who doesn’t share their political viewpoint.

The editor of the Liberal Conspiracy blog says what most bloggers already know — you tend to need a thick skin and the ability to plan if you want to be noticed.

Interestingly, he believes that the blogosphere isn’t mature because it’s more about discussion than new journalism. Interesting because in my opinion, one of the most powerful aspects of blogging at its best is the interaction with readers it allows.

There’s also disagreement over whether George Orwell would have blogged.

While DJ Taylor, Orwell’s biographer and chair of the Orwell Trust, said that “he would have been interested in the democratic possibilities of it” but that “the misuses to which blogging has been put certainly would have appalled him”, Beckett said that “he was a contrarian, he loved a row and he didn’t mind people having a go at him. George Orwell would have blogged. Fact.”

We’ll never know whether blogging would have been a medium Orwell used, but it’s encouraging that a prestigious award is now recognising blogs, whether they’re fully mature or not.

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