It is a hectic week for the deputy director of the Orwell Prize as the deadline for this year's entries arrives and festival events need organising – while the Leveson inquiry into press standards provides the backgroundMonday
It would be fair to say there's no such thing as a quiet week at the Orwell Prize/Media Standards Trust. But if all weeks are equally manic, some are more equal than others, and Orwell Prize deadline week is one of the busiest of the year. It begins with an early start at our Notting Hill offices – just down Portobello Road from one of Orwell's old flats – and a futile attempt to clear my inbox. Publishers, journalists and bloggers have until Wednesday to get their entries to us and many, in proper journalistic fashion, wait until just before the deadline. Luckily our intern is able to help log each entry before I check the eligibility, find the anti-plagiarism disclaimer and contact the entrant to confirm. I'm particularly glad of the help as I head off to east London for a few hours for a seminar on Hobbes – part of my part-time MA in the history of political thought – before exchanging his Leviathan
for that of the entry pile. This occupies the rest of the day, and would the evening too if it weren't for a regular run with some friends.
There's plenty to do on the prize on top of the entries. Deadlines are approaching for a number of events we're organising in the next few months – three at the Sunday Times
Oxford Literary Festival, one at the Buxton Festival and one as part of a display of Aleks Krotoski's 1984
photos at Foyles. Guests are invited and programme copy written. Away from the prize, I'm also senior editor for the Media Standards Trust, which today means editing our Journalisted
Weekly newsletter, which looks at the previous week's news in statistics. Scottish independence was covered lots; Welsh constituency boundary changes were covered little; and Justin Bieber's tattoo received more coverage than the Doomsday Clock edging a minute closer to midnight (the two were unrelated). With The Times'
appearance at the Leveson inquiry providing the soundtrack to our day, The Guardian's
report that a previous winner of ours – pseudonymous police blogger 'Nightjack' – might have had his email hacked by a Times
journalist, provided an interesting coda – a coda requiring phone calls, emails and thoughts about a press statement.
Deadline day. The office resembles a Turner Prize-winning installation, with boxes, books and bytes bristling for attention. A system refined by five years of administration relieves the occasional horror of looking from one pile of entries to another and it being impossible to tell which is which. But even Microsoft Excel can't guard against the innocent ingenuity of entrants, who will always throw up an unexpected eligibility query which needs sorting. It's a useful reminder of the human effort behind all of the words and works we receive. This all means, sadly, that I can't make the Hacked Off seminar at the House of Lords, marking six months since the launch of our campaign for a public inquiry into phone-hacking. It's been a crazy six months: while the campaign secured the strong terms of reference for the Leveson Inquiry, the prize also had the Johann Hari plagiarism controversy to deal with, and we have to keep all of the MST's other projects going.
As we process the entries, confirm with the entrants and prepare to send them to our judges, it's clear that we have another record year on our hands – well over 260 books, up from 213, nearly 140 journalists, up from 87, and over 220 bloggers, up from 205.
A rare day away from the office. In addition to running the prize, my role at the MST means editing the various publications we produce – research reports, blogposts and submissions to government inquiries, including Leveson. We're currently preparing a very brief history of previous reports on press regulation, so today I'm reading the 1990 Calcutt Report – supposedly the bar tab of the 'Last Chance Saloon'. 1990 is a theme for the day, as I see The Iron Lady
that evening. Despite Meryl Streep's mesmerising performance, Calcutt was surprisingly the more interesting, well-structured and worthwhile of the two.
Next Monday's seminar is on Adam Smith, so it's his Lectures on Jurisprudence
– or rather someone's notes on his lectures on jurisprudence – for me. As if we didn't have enough on at work, I'll also be moving flat shortly so there's a lunchtime visit there, before a friend's birthday in the evening.
To the day of rest, and some more Calcutt – briefly – then watching Arsenal lose to Man United (not briefly enough for an Arsenal fan). At least my United-supporting friend kept the gloating brief, too.Gavin Freeguard is deputy director of the Orwell Prize and senior editor at the Media Standards Trust