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
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