Jenan Taylor awarded the Guy Morrison Prize

Jenan Taylor has won the Guy Morrison Prize for Literary Journalism.
Jenan Taylor has won the Guy Morrison Prize for Literary Journalism.

Monash University’s Jenan Taylor has earned national recognition for her unique pauper story, winning the Guy Morrison Prize for Literary Journalism.

Jenan,  a Master of Journalism student, was presented with her prize at the Sydney Writers’ Festival on May 22, which coincided with UTS’s anthology launch.

Her award-winning story, A Quiet Farewell, was published in The Weekend Australian Magazine.

Jenan’s prize follows her recent success as the Melbourne Press Club’s 2014 Student Journalist of the Year, awarded for the same investigative story.

Applications for UTS’s Guy Morrison Prize are invited from Australian undergraduate or postgraduate students who are studying either journalism, communication or writing.

Jenan is thrilled to win the prize for her investigation into what happens when a pauper dies.

“My story on the pauper funeral of a single mother was an attempt to highlight what we take for granted in contemporary Australia isn’t necessarily within everyone’s reach, not even after we die,” Jenan said.

“It’s difficult journalism that keeps throwing up, among other challenges, its own range of moral and ethical questions, the more I practice it.

“However, I’m absolutely elated to have to won this award and feel particularly encouraged to keep pursuing this kind of journalism.”

Judge Chris Feik described Jenan’s article as a “wonderful piece of reporting”.

“It does what the best journalism does: it tells us things we didn’t know,” Mr Feik wrote.

“It explains what happens when a pauper dies. We witness in vivid close-up the embalming of an anonymous woman who ‘could not afford to die’.

“Throughout the piece, the writer addresses the deceased subject. ‘Am I ready to touch your skin,’ Jenan asks, and decides: ‘I am’. Such a device could easily seem forced, but is handled skilfully here.” 

Jenan said it was too easy in this age of 24-hour news to lose sight of the complexities and nuances behind the headlines.

“For me literary journalism is about revealing these insights and even throwing a spotlight on lives which we would normally never think twice about, which is why I’ve always been attracted to it,” she said.

Jenan said Monash journalism staff Associate Professor Philip Chubb and Dr Monica Jackson were encouraging as she researched her story, and thanked them for their support.