The 2019 Hitchens Prize awarded to George Packer

The 2019 Hitchens Prize was awarded to writer George Packer for his essay, “The Enemies of Writing”, published in the Atlantic in January, 2020.

The prize is awarded annually by the Dennis & Victoria Ross Foundation “to an author or journalist whose work reflects a commitment to free expression and inquiry,‭ ‬a range and depth of intellect,‭ ‬and a willingness to pursue the truth without regard to personal or professional consequence. The Prize is named in honor of the late Christopher Hitchens,‭ ‬a writer whose career was a rare if not unique expression of those qualities.‭”

From the DVRF Website: Dennis Ross, the president and director of the Dennis & Victoria Ross Foundation, said of Packer: “We are very pleased to award George Packer the 2019 Hitchens Prize. Christopher Hitchens’s career set a standard of intellectual seriousness and integrity that continues to inspire and is our benchmark for the prize. George’s work meets that standard in every measure, and offers its own inspiration for journalists working today. We take great pride in adding him to the roster of Hitchens Prize winners.”

Here are the previous winners:

2018 – Masha Gessen, Journalist and Author
2017 – Graydon Carter, Editor
2016 – Marty Baron, Executive Editor of The Washington Post
2015 – Alex Gibney, Documentary Filmmaker

James Randi (1928 – 2020)

This past Tuesday, October 20, we lost one of the great defenders of the skeptical mind. James Randi, also known by his stage name The Amazing Randi, was a stage magician (amongst other things) who devoted much of his life to debunking pseudo-science including spoon-bending and the paranormal. He touched many lives and was an inspiration to many in the LGBTQ community when he came out in his 80s. I had the opportunity to meet him at the 2017 North Eastern Conference on Science and Skepticism. We spoke briefly about Hitchens, whom he greatly respected. For more on that event, see the posting I did at the time as well as his NYT Obituary and the 2014 documentary An Honest Liar.

Also see his tribute to Hitch: We Lost A Giant.