The European Parliament awarded the 2010 Journalism Prize Wednesday to items that have contributed to an understanding of the European Union. Witold Szabłowski of Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza took the press award for an article on illegal immigration, Hungary's Zsolt Németh got the TV prize for his film explaining the EU to young people and Kajsa Norell and Nuri Kino of Sveriges Radio Ekot in Sweden won for a piece on financial aid to Turkey.
The online prize went to James Clive-Matthews aka "Nosemonkey" for his blog post on EUtopia - "What percentage of laws come from the EU?" The judges liked the wit and humour in his blog and the amount of research he put into it. We chatted to him ahead of the award ceremony.
Why blog under the name "Nosemonkey"?
There's absolutely no reason at all - it was just a hangover from the internet era where you had to have a stupid signature.
What made you write the winning blog?
The main reason was getting annoyed at a statement by an MEP on "Question Time" (a UK current affairs TV programme) saying that 84% of laws come from the EU. The next morning I woke up and I thought "that must be nonsense, 84% is ridiculous, if is true and if 84% of all laws come from the EU then what's the point in having national governments anymore."
The UK's Europe Minister at the time said it was 9.1% which is the standard official response in the UK, but no-one believes that either - and it also sounds a bit low. So I thought it can't be 84% and it can't be 9.1%, what is it?
It took me and hour and a half to track down specific comments from specific people at different times. I am not party political and not a europhile or a eurosceptic in the British sense so we have to ask what is the truth about these figures?
So what is the figure?
You'll have to read my blog! [ed. link below]
Why write about Europe?
I first started a blog back in 2003, which is a significant date as the whole Iraq war thing was kicking off - it was dominating the news. It's probably callous...but I got bored of the concept of invading a country and I was thinking, what else is going on and so I looked for something that was interesting. I probably picked the wrong subject, but it was something that was complicated and intellectually challenging.
The EU is so complicated you are never going to run out of new things to discover. Seven years on, I still don't understand it - I am not sure anyone ever does - it's not like anything that has ever been tried before.
If you understand the EU you can probably understand anything and if you can make it interesting you can probably make anything interesting.
What should the EU and national governments be doing to engage people with the EU?
National governments should be doing more but they won't - if you are a conspiracy theorist you would say they are losing power and influence - the EU has become a scapegoat.
If governments try and communicate then they will of course be accused of propaganda. National governments like people not to know what going on and claim credit when the EU does something well, but blame "Brussels" when things go badly. It's not just the UK it happens everywhere. It's pathetic but entirely understandable.