Nosemonkey's EUtopia

In search of a European identity

So, I’ve won the internet category of the European Parliament Prize for Journalism

And here’s a nice report from

European Parliament Prize for JournalismI may well be posting some more detailed thoughts here at some point soon – no doubt musing on the concept of a political institution giving journalists money for doing their job in a manner the politicians like (or, indeed, of giving journalists any money whatsoever), the state of political blogging, journalism and EU coverage in general.

For now, however, here’s an updated version of the acceptance speech that I decided on the day that I wouldn’t use (mostly due to not having had the time to formulate it in my head after hearing why I’d won…)


Although I’m flattered, I genuinely *don’t* think that my post on the percentage of laws that come from the EU [which won me the 5,000 euro prize] deserves to be described as “extraordinary research work”.

“Informative and interesting”, perhaps. “Understandable and convincing”, I hope. Written “with a sense of humour”, I’d like to think. But “extraordinary research work”?

The research that went into that post was less than I would have done on an undergraduate history essay while at university. It was just a tiny fraction of what I would have needed to do for a postgraduate level essay. Compared to a PhD or a book? It’s nothing.

I’ve not done a PhD, but do have an MA in history, have written two books and edited several others – I don’t know what “extraordinary” research is, but I’ve got a good idea of what counts as *proper* research.

You want proper research on the percentage of laws that comes from the EU? Check out this 59-page PDF research paper from the (politically independent) House of Commons Library – amusingly published the very same day that I was in Brussels being handed an award for my supposedly “extraordinary research work” on the very same topic. My post looks like *nothing* in comparison (though – sweetly – it is referenced in the footnotes).

I did my MA before the internet had really taken off as a research tool, when to find things out one had to sit in libraries for weeks, months on end, inhaling the dust of generations of pasty students. When to get to the *really* interesting stuff, one had to hop on a train – perhaps even a plane – to go to the documents, rather than have the documents delivered to you, direct to your laptop. When to uncover something new, one might have to spend years studying a new language to enable the decryption of a document that no one had read for hundreds of years.

We don’t realise how lucky we are. Thanks to the internet, we’re utterly spoiled.

Had I been working ten years ago, that post would have taken me a good couple of days – perhaps as long as a week – to dig out all the information. As it was, it took me a little over an hour and a half.

That’s not “extraordinary research work”. That’s being aware of this thing called Google, and understanding how to use the web to uncover information. Something that *every* journalist or blogger worthy of the name should know how to do.

I’ll accept that I may have compiled that information in an accessible way – hell, I’ve been a professional writer/editor for over a decade so I bloody ought to be able to – but research? That was nothing. And if anyone thinks it is, that says more about the dire state of the general, accepted standard of research that goes into articles about the EU (and most other subjects these days) than it does about my own abilities.

I’m flattered, but let’s be realistic here…

For those who are interested, a report and some interviews with yours truly – I like the last the best:

Journalists following the dodo?: Interview w/Nosemonkey
Uploaded by tuulitoivanen. – Up-to-the minute news videos.


  1. You’re looking at it the wrong way. For an academic, or someone interested in history or an academic tradition, the amount of research you did was truly negligible.

    For a journalist? You spent more than ten minutes fact checking. That’s extraordinary. Ordinarily, they take press releases, especially from certain Brussels based “think tanks” as read and just publish them ;-)

  2. Heh, and I watched the second video after typing that, and you make a similar point. I’ll go get myself some coffeee I think…

  3. Congratulations – very much deserved (despite your protests about the effort put in). I’m hoping this means you’ll feel a crushing, crushing guilt compelling you to publish more blog posts – and we’ll see a flurry of activity from you now? ;-)

  4. Congratulations on your prize! As Eurogoblin has said, it’s well deserved.

  5. As Cloughie would have said, “Well done, young man!”

    Good to see you blogging once more. And thanks for the pointer to the HoC Library paper.

  6. Congrats Nosemonkey, it was a very good and informative post.

  7. Well, at least the prize was handed to someone who does a decent job of writing about EU issues.

    I also think that you can’t compare the standards of modern day journalism to academia. The articles of this blog are often better than those of what are considered quality news papers.

  8. A tad tardy, but well done. I look forward to your ruminations as suggested above,
    “more detailed thoughts here at some point soon – no doubt musing on the concept of a political institution giving journalists money for doing their job in a manner the politicians like (or, indeed, of giving journalists any money whatsoever),”
    which as you know is my only beef.

  9. Congrats! a bit late, I know, but I know too it is always a pleasure to receive them. I was nominated to the same prize on the same category last year, but I didn’t win. Anyway, it was a very exciting experience and I am very happy for you and as a blogger, very proud. Even more, your ironi is very well appreciated for all of us, because to tell people about EU affaires you will need to have a good mood or you can get bored yourserlf or to die! (I’m sure there are already cases!).
    Thanks for your post and please, keep posting!!!

  10. Congratulations on the big win! Sure, as you say, it’s not research worthy of a Ph.D. But less will do; and you’ve done very well, certainly better than most journalists.

    I’ve just started a blog about U.S. and E.U. politics (here it is, if you’re interested:, and found myself belonging to a very small community of bloggers concerned with E.U. politics. Your blog is one of the best I’ve encountered so far, so for that alone it’s encouraging that you won the award – hopefully it will inspire others to write about the important issues dealt with by the E.U. and E.U. as a whole.

    Keep up the good work.