The first ever George Orwell Society Award for the Brunel University student journalist of the year has been won by recent graduate Adesayo Talabi.
Talabi, who now writes for social news platform Blasting News, impressed the judges with “hard-hitting” stories including coverage of homelessness, female genital mutilation and the execution of an innocent man.
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The prize of £100 was presented to 21-year old Talabi by the Orwell Society’s patron – the Animal Farm author and journalist’s son Richard Blair – on Wednesday.
Former journalism student Talabi, from Luton, said she had always loved “the uncomfortable truth”.
She said: “It’s an honour to be recognised for just being yourself, for expressing yourself, and sharing your understanding of the world – I found out that all the right people were listening.”
“I’m passionate about the truth and promised myself that I would dedicate my life to speaking it – especially in my career. Ruffling a few feathers isn’t enough, I plan on pulling them out,” she added.
The award was named after Orwell partly because of his links to the Uxbridge area where the university is based. It was introduced to “symbolise the very best values of journalism”, said Brunel lecturer Steve Cohen.
He added: “We wanted to reward someone who wrote passionately about social justice.
“In Adesayo, we found a writer with a unique new voice who may make a very big difference in the world of journalism.”
To win the prize, students reading journalism at Brunel were encouraged to follow Orwell’s example as a journalist by demonstrating a “ferocious commitment to pursuing the truth”, according to a university spokesperson.
Blair said: “On behalf of the Orwell Society, I would like to congratulate Adesayo Talabi for being the first winner of the Orwell prize for Journalism at Brunel University.
“Her work demonstrated an original voice and clarity of thought, and captured some of the social and political urgency that was so typical of Orwell’s work.
“We look forward to working with Brunel University in the future and to help more students to take up their pens and be inspired to emulate Orwell’s penetrating thoughts.”
Alongside students from various universities, Talabi is now working to launch VYBL (Voice of Young Black Leaders), a new online magazine which will cover cultural, political and entertainment stories aimed at and relevant to students of African and Caribbean descent.
Picture: Brunel University