Let’s get the facts in order!
Now you’re feeling inspired, it’s time to start researching your piece… this year, we asked writer and researcher Sujana Crawford to tell us a little about her own research methods – read her tips for getting started here.
Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”
George Orwell, ‘Politics and the English Language‘
Whether you’re writing an article, a story, a poem or even a game design, it’s important to know your facts. This stage of the pathway aims to help you begin finding out more about the topics which interest you and to help you find reliable sources of information.
Writing is always a creative process, but a bit of research is always useful whatever you’re writing. You might come across surprising facts, unsung heroes, untold stories, striking images, shocking statistics, unexpectedly poetic phrases – all sorts of material which will be really helpful for your work!
Below we’ve collected some articles and programmes recommended by members of the team and our Youth Fellows to provide some inspiration, which we’ll continue adding to throughout the year. You don’t need to start here (and you certainly don’t need to read all the suggestions!) but have a browse and see if you can find anything which helps develop your ideas further, or take them in a new direction.
Whenever you’re researching a subject, you will find that some sources of information are more reliable than others. Some may not even be reliable at all. Here are some links to advice on ways to critically examine the information you encounter, especially online.
- The BBC’s ‘Real News‘ page (they also have helpful resources on reporting generally)
- For college students and teachers this series of quick online lessons introduces fact-checking and source-checking
Like the Orwell Youth Prize, the Orwell Prizes exist to encourage good politically-engaged writing and reporting. Why not research the work of a previous Orwell Prize winner, or read an interview with an Orwell Prize nominated journalist over on our Substack?
- Who controls football? This Orwell Youth Prize resource on politics and football by Wyn Grant explores the globalisation of football and what this means about who has control over different aspects of the sport – from ticket prices to global projects, stadiums and players.
- Who controls what we want? A BBC article on the impact of influencer culture.
- Who controls the economy: here’s an introduction to economics for young people.
- Why are conspiracy theories so appealing? An article on how to talk to conspiracy theorists and still be kind.
- Who controls reproduction rights? An article summarising the Roe Vs Wade abortion rights case in the United States.
- Age of Insecurity – read this report from the Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, on the structural challenges young people are facing today, including the cost of moving out and paying rent and the challenges of work with low pay, insecure hours and poor work-life balance.
- Watch a talk from 2022 Orwell Youth Prize Judge, Professor Michael Jacobs, on the politics surrounding the climate crisis, the power which global leaders and governments have, and also the power individuals have to affect change.
- Is anyone in control? The poet, playwright and novelist, Glyn Maxwell, recently wrote a series of poems for performance about recent political events including the UK government’s response to the Covid 19 pandemic, Grenfell Tower, and the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan – but based on famous poems by writers like Alfred Lord Tennyson, Rudyard Kipling and Robert Browning. (includes one use of strong language).
- Who controls the stories we tell? Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED Talk on ‘The Danger of a Single Story’, explores how narratives about different groups of people can be controlled, and how to change and expand those stories.
- ‘Power is no more inherently good or evil than fire or physics. It just is.’ American writer Eric Liu’s Ted Talk on why ordinary people need to understand power.
- Who controls the news? In this BBC Sounds podcast Orwell Youth Prize Judge Marianna Spring explores disinformation and the Ukraine war (contains scenes some listeners may find upsetting, including discussion and description of war and violence, and strong language).
- Is social media out of control? Also from Marianna Spring, Radio 4’s Disaster Trolls, investigating how people caught up in the Manchester Arena bombing and other UK terror attacks, are targeted with extreme conspiracy theories, online abuse and threats (contains scenes some listeners may find upsetting, including discussion of terror attacks and descriptions of violence and murder threats).
- On The New Yorker Radio Hour, Stephania Taladrid reports on a network of volunteers distributing abortion medication—illegally and sometimes at great risk—to women in states that ban the procedure, following the fall of Roe v Wade.
- Jon Ronson explores the origins and impact of culture wars in ‘Things Fell Apart‘, an 8 episode podcast – and a bonus episode with Louis Theroux!
Below are some previous Orwell Youth Prize entries which we think might inspire you to think about this year’s theme…
“If we continue to support a system that privatizes water and incentivises mega corporations to profit from disaster, we will all be in turmoil.”
‘The Ethics of a KitKat’, by Orwell Youth Prize 2022 winner Ruby McIntee
“She had chosen to see him as an animal.”
‘The Faceless Drug’ by Orwell Youth Prize 2019 winner, Francesca Morgan
“This is what happens when we choose to use our voice.”
‘It’s Not Your Fault’ by 2021 Orwell Youth Prize winner, Katie Sherley
“Even though it scared her to death… she knew she had to take the first step”
‘The Power of One’ by Orwell Youth Prize 2022 winner, Oluwatoni Adesanya
“Writing is an act of protest, right?”
‘A Small Thing’, by Orwell Youth Prize 2021 winner, Anya Edgerton