Orwell Award

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The NCTE George Orwell Award for Distinguished Contribution to Honesty and Clarity in Public Language (the Orwell Award for short), is an award given since 1975 by the Public Language Award Committee of the National Council of Teachers of English. It is awarded annually to "writers who have made outstanding contributions to the critical analysis of public discourse."[1]

Noam Chomsky, Donald Barlett, and James B. Steele are the only recipients to have won twice.

Its negative counterpart, awarded by the same body, is the Doublespeak Award, "an ironic tribute to public speakers who have perpetuated language that is grossly deceptive, evasive, euphemistic, confusing, or self-centered."[2]



  • 1975: David Wise for The Politics of Lying
  • 1976: Hugh Rank for the "Intensify/Downplay" schema for analyzing communication, persuasion, and propaganda
  • 1977: Walter Pincus, Washington Post "A patient, methodical journalist who knew his job and who knew the jargon of Washington. Mr. Pincus was the man responsible for bringing to public attention, and thus to a debate in the Senate, the appropriations funding for the neutron bomb."—Hugh Rank, chair, NCTE Committee on Public Doublespeak
  • 1978: Sissela Bok for Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life
  • 1979: Erving Goffman for Gender Advertisements



  • 1990: Charlotte Baecher, Consumers Union for Selling America's Kids: Commercial Pressures on Kids of the 90s
  • 1991: David Aaron Kessler, Commissioner, Federal Food and Drug Administration. "Under the leadership of Commissioner Kessler," said William Lutz, chair of the NCTE Committee on Public Doublespeak, "the FDA has begun seizing products with misleading labels, developing new guidelines for clarity and accuracy in food labels, and exposing false, misleading, and deceptive health claims on food labels and in food advertising."
  • 1992: Donald Barlett and James Steele, Philadelphia Inquirer for America: What Went Wrong?
  • 1993: Eric Alterman: Sound and Fury: The Washington Punditocracy and the Collapse of American Politics
  • 1994: Garry Trudeau, creator of the cartoon strip "Doonesbury" was cited for consistently attacking doublespeak in all aspects of American life and from all parts of the cultural and political spectrum.
  • 1995: Lies of Our Times (LOOT) A Magazine to Correct the Record, was published between January 1990 and December 1994. It served not only as a general media critic, but as a watchdog of The New York Times, which the magazine referred to as "the most cited news medium in the U.S., our paper of record."
  • 1996: William D. Lutz for The New Doublespeak: Why No One Knows What Anyone's Saying Anymore
  • 1997: Gertrude Himmelfarb for "Professor Narcissus: In Today's Academy, Everything Is Personal," June 2, 1997, issue of The Weekly Standard
  • 1998: Two winners
    • Juliet Schor for The Overspent American: Upscaling, Downshifting and the New Consumer
    • Scott Adams for his role in "Mission Impertinent" (San Jose Mercury News West Magazine, November 16, 1997). The farce highlighted the absurdity of managerial language and the overuse of the "mission statement".
  • 1999: Norman Solomon for The Habits of Highly Deceptive Media: Decoding Spin and Lies in the Mainstream News (published by Common Courage Press, 1999)



  • 2010: Michael Pollan, author of Food Rules and co-narrator of Food, Inc.
  • 2011: F.S. Michaels, author of Monoculture: How One Story Is Changing Everything
  • 2012: Peter Zuckerman and Amanda Padoan, authors of Buried in the Sky
  • 2013: Paul L. Thomas whose publications include "Ignoring Poverty in the U.S.: The corporate takeover of public education" (2012) and "Challenging Genres: Comic books and graphic novels" (2010). Dr. Thomas has also edited a recently published volume titled "Becoming and Being a Teacher: Confronting Traditional Norms to Create New Democratic Realities" (2013).
  • 2014 The Onion for its satire and "treatment of dramatically sensitive issues that plague our culture", in particular U.S. gun culture.
  • 2015: Anthony Cody for The Educator and the Oligarch
  • 2016: David Greenberg for Republic of Spin: An Inside History of the American Presidency
  • 2017: Richard Sobel for Citizenship as Foundation of Rights: Meaning for America
  • 2018: Katie Watson for Scarlet A
  • 2019: Michael P. Lynch for Know-It-All-Society: Truth and Arrogance in Political Culture


  • 2020: Dr. April Baker-Bell, author of Linguistic Justice: Black Language, Literacy, Identity, Pedagogy

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "NCTE George Orwell Award for Distinguished Contribution to Honesty and Clarity in Public Language". National Council of Teachers of English. Retrieved 18 January 2017.
  2. ^ "The Doublespeak Award". www.ncte.org. Archived from the original on 17 January 2018. Retrieved 17 January 2018.

External links[edit]