The winners of this year’s European Parliament Prize for Journalism have been announced today, and the jury’s choice for the winning text in the category “Internet” is what one might call a #fail on the internet.
Now, let me say that this is not a critique to the winner of the prize who wrote a nice little text about the general nature of the EU as there are hundreds written every year in blogs, newspaper op-eds university essays etc.
But calling this text an “outstanding contribution to the clarification of major issues at European level [or] […] to a better understanding of the institutions or policies of the European Union” (cf. the rules) in the category “internet” is a choice by the jury that is hard to understand – not just by me (see here, here, here, here, here)
From what I read, the text doesn’t contain anything new or original, just reflections that have been made so often before that re-reading them isn’t opening one’s eyes unless one has never read a text about the EU before. It doesn’t contain much – if any – journalistic research, at least nothing that one could call “outstanding”. I also don’t see how this clarified major issues or helped me to understand institutions or policies better.
But even if we put this aside as a matter of taste or subjective perspective: Most importantly, it’s not really a text that is outstanding in the sense of the “internet” category.
Yes, it is published online. However, it doesn’t contain any links to sources and existing discussions, probably one of the main elements of good journalistic texts online. The article doesn’t make use of any audiovisual or interactive elements that make internet journalism so special. It is not collaborative, one further possible aspect of what good online journalism may bring along. And finally, it hasn’t created any type of visible debate, at least I couldn’t find a comment below the text.
I don’t think that all of these elements need to be fulfilled to make online journalism prize-worthy according to the European Parliament standards.
But comparing it to the text that won last year and taking this as some kind of orientation – not saying that there hadn’t been better European journalism on the internet than Mathew’s text – I wouldn’t say that this year’s winning text is outstanding in any of the possible indicators for good EU journalism online.
Now again, this is not about the winner who has all the rights to enjoy the prize.
But the jury has missed a chance of actually highlighting outstanding EU-oriented journalistic work online, work that would have made use of the means that this cultural technique offers to make EU matters better understandable, criticise what would be ignored without good journalism or to change our view on European issues by allowing a new perspective thanks to new types of story-telling that are only possible on the internet.
And if there hasn’t been anything close to this expectations in the submissions for the internet category – maybe the way the prize is organised or advertised doesn’t make it attractive enough for excellent submissions from the online journalistic world. Or, I might add, choosing the European winner through national winners – a contradiction in itself, in particular in the internet category where borders do become more and more obsolete – is not the optimal way of getting the best actual online journalism for the prize.
Update: Just in case you may be asking what I was thinking of, take this example from Owni.eu. It’s a subject similar to winners of the other categories of the prize, but it makes use of all types of elements I was talking about. It took me 5 minutes after writing the post to find it.
Update 2: And no, I haven’t yet talked about the usefulness of the prize itself.
Update 3: Journalisten.dk has written a critical article about the EP Journalism Prize (quoting this post, too) and informs that there will likely be no such prize next year because of parliamentarian’s opposition.