Orwell Prize Longlists for Journalism and Exposing Britain’s Social Evils 2020

Thursday 09 April 2020

The longlists for The Orwell Prize for Journalism and The Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils (sponsored and supported by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation) are announced today, Thursday 9th April. The 27 entries, across two longlists, span a wide range of publications, media and perspectives, from the local to the national, broadsheet to broadcast, commentary and investigative reporting. The journalism of 2019 is not of the past: this reporting exposes the fault lines we are living with today.


 The Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils longlist 2020:

This is the sixth year that The Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils has been awarded. The Prize is sponsored and supported by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and is named in recognition of the task Joseph Rowntree gave his organization ‘to search out the underlying causes of weakness or evil’ that lay behind Britain’s social problems. The Prize has a unique remit to encourage, highlight and sustain original, insightful, and impactful reporting on social issues in the UK that has enhanced the public understanding of social problems and public policy, and welcomes reporting that uses investigative intelligence to pursue new kinds of story, ones that may also extend the reach of traditional media. The full longlist is:

  • Britain’s hidden children’s homes
    • Innes Bowen, Katie Razzall, Sally Chesworth and Luke Winsbury (BBC Newsnight)
  • Locked up & secretly abused by the NHS
    • Ian Birrell, (Freelance – Mail on Sunday, I News, Tortoise)
  • Darren McGarvey’s Scotland
    • Darren McGarvey, Stephen Bennett, Harry Bell (Tern Television Productions LTD)
  • Knife Crime and Exclusions
    • Rachel Sylvester (The Times)
  • Summer on the Farm
    • Sharon Hendry (The Sunday Times Magazine)
  • Segregated Playgrounds
    • Harriet Grant and Chris Michael (The Guardian)
  • Breast Ironing in the UK
    • Inna Lazareva (The Guardian)
  • A five-year investigation to expose slave-like conditions on Bristol high street
    • Adam Cantwell-Corn and Alon Aviram (The Bristol Cable)
  • Watch out for the “scavengers”, the new kind of nightlife threat
    • Kate Pasola (Cosmopolitan UK)
  • Britain’s Everyday Drug Problem
    • Paul Caruana Galizia and Tom Goulding (Tortoise)
  • Beyond the Bubble
    • Jennifer Williams (Manchester News and Prospect)
  • Children in the Dock
    • Helen Pidd, Josh Halliday, Maya Wolfe-Robinson, Nazia Parveen, Amy Walker, Nicole Wootton-Cane and Philip Marzouk (The Guardian)
  • LBC Uncovers Major People Smuggling Ring
    • Rachael Venables, Vicky Etchells, Paul Samrai, Alex Samrai and Saskia Lumley (LBC)



We think any of the 13 entries would be a worthy winner. The quality of entries this year was exceptionally high, and very varied. In the end we decided that we would take our lead from George Orwell and originality had to be the most important judging criteria. In our longlist we have awarded stories that expose an issue you might not have known about, reporting that changed policy or attitudes, and entries that were based on a unique angle, or way of writing about a well-covered subject.”


Iain Dale, Chair of Judges, The Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils 2020


The Orwell Prize for Journalism longlist 2020:

The Orwell Prize for Journalism is awarded each year to the commentary and/or reportage, in any medium, which best meets George Orwell’s own ambition ‘to make political writing into an art’. Independent of editorial agenda, the Prize is free to enter and accepts self-nomination. Journalists are listed alongside the publications written for in their submission. Each journalist is invited to submit three pieces for consideration by the judges. The full longlist is:

  • Aditya Chakrabortty, The Guardian
  • Nick Cohen, The Observer; Standpoint
  • Khaled Diab, The New Arab
  • John Harris and John Domokos, The Guardian
  • Peter Foster, The Daily Telegraph; Twitter
  • Gaby Hinsliff, Prospect; The Guardian
  • Anthony Loyd, GQ; The Times
  • Peter Oborne, Open Democracy
  • Matthew Parris, The Spectator; The Times
  • Zak Garner-Purkis, Construction News
  • Jenni Russell, The Times
  • David Smith, The Sunday Times; The Times
  • Janice Turner, The Times
  • Michela Wrong, The Guardian




We were looking for journalism that’s independent of agenda, that serves the public rather than private interest, and that’s also written by journalists who are working against the grain, rather than with it. We have already found a whole load that combines accuracy, brevity, and above all in these murky times of ours, clarity. Choosing one of those above all the others that matches Orwell’s ambition to make political writing into an art, is going to be a gigantic task.”


Ben Fenton, Chair of Judges, The Orwell Prize for Journalism 2020

The judges for the 2020 Orwell Prize for Journalism are: Ben Fenton (chair), Senior Director and Head of Creative Industries, Edelman; author, journalist and previous Orwell Prize-winner Vanora Bennett; author and journalist Mihir Bose and the journalist and former MP for Ashfield, Gloria de Piero.

The judges for the 2020 Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils are: broadcaster, author and political commentator Iain Dale (chair); Rosie Campbell, Professor of Politics and Director of the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College London; Global Drugs Editor, VICE, and previous Orwell Prize-winner Max Daly; Deputy Director of Advocacy and Public Engagement at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Abigail Scott-Paul, and Editor-in-chief, ELLE, Farrah Storr.

The shortlists for both prizes will be announced in mid-May and the winners of the prizes, which are both worth £3,000, will be unveiled on George Orwell’s birthday, Tuesday 25th June, together with the winner of The Orwell Prize for Political Writing and The Orwell Prize for Political Fiction. Longlists for both The Orwell Prize for Political Writing and Orwell Prize for Political Fiction were announced on Wednesday 8th April 2020.

Professor Jean Seaton, Director of the Orwell Foundation, said:

The journalism of 2019 is not of the past. We will live and die with the virus in the world that this reporting and thinking exposed. You need to re-read this work now because your future, your family’s, your community’s, everyone else’s future depends on understanding our recent history.

We depend on good government, and good institutions as never before. We hope that they, like us, can learn. The virus will rip through social and political structures, revealing their inequality, injustice, and lack of proper care and judgement. We face an unprecedented challenge. Some politicians, from all sides, have been shameless, but this journalism shows there are lessons waiting to be learnt.”


Notes to editors


  1. The Orwell Foundation is a registered charity (1161563) providing free cultural events and resources for the public benefit. Every year, the Foundation awards The Orwell Prizes, Britain’s most prestigious awards for political writing, to work which comes closest to George Orwell’s ambition ‘to make political writing into an art’. There are currently four prizes: for Political Fiction, Political Writing, Journalism and Exposing Britain’s Social Evils.
  2. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation sponsors the Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation is an independent social change organisation that through research, policy collaboration and practical solutions, aims to inspire action and change that will create a prosperous UK without poverty.
  3. The Orwell Foundation uses the work of George Orwell to celebrate honest writing and reporting, uncover hidden lives and confront uncomfortable truths. The Foundation’s partners and sponsors include University College London, Political Quarterly, Richard Blair, A.M. Heath and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Since 2016, the Orwell Foundation has been based at UCL, which is also home to the world’s most comprehensive body of research material relating to Orwell, the UNESCO registered George Orwell Archive
  4. The Orwell Prize for Journalism was first awarded in 1994. The Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils was first awarded in 2014. In 2020 The Orwell Prize for Journalism received 120 entries and The Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils received 97 entries.
  5. Previous winners have included Guardian columnist Suzanne Moore (Journalism 2019) and Prospect’s Deputy Editor Steve Bloomfield (Journalism 2019), Max Daly, Global Drugs Editor at VICE (Exposing Britain’s Social Evils 2019) and Sarah O’Connor, Special Correspondent at the Financial Times (Exposing Britain’s Social Evils (2018).