The Nico Colchester Journalism fellowship


The Nico Colchester fellowships were established in memory of Nico Colchester, who died in 1996 after an outstanding career at the Financial Times, The Economist and the Economist Intelligence Unit. Nico had a passion for writing about European politics, economics, and society—and his sharp, witty, authoritative analysis would have been especially precious today.

This year will see the five-yearly elections to the European Parliament in May, followed by a wholesale shake-up in the leadership of the European Commission, the European Council and the European Central Bank. A mood of angry discontent among many voters, fears of another slowdown in the euro-zone economy and continuing success for populist parties in many countries are combining to create deep concerns about the likely outcomes. Support for the European Union is in most countries higher than it has been for many years, yet the popularity of political leaders such as Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel has slipped, while Theresa May is preoccupied with delivering Brexit. There are also continuing doubts about the state of democracy in several countries in central and eastern Europe. 

All this would certainly have given Nico, one of the finest reporters on European affairs of his generation, plenty to write about in his original and inimitable way, which included such ideas as a Mars Bar index and the division of countries and their leaders into the “crunchy” and the “soggy”.

In yet another momentous year for the European Union, here is your chance to emulate Nico’s successful career by launching yourself into the world of journalism at two of the world’s most global and well-respected news organisations. 

What do the prizes involve and who is eligible?

Two awards are on offer: one, for a British or Irish applicant, will consist of a three-month fellowship in continental Europe at the Financial Times; the other, for an applicant from elsewhere in the European Union, will be a three-month fellowship in London at The Economist. The fellowships are open only to citizens of the EU or UK. Both winners will receive a bursary of £6,000 to cover accommodation and travel.

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Who are the fellowships suited for?

The fellowships are intended for aspiring or early-career journalists with bold ideas and a lively writing style, each capable of working amid the excitement and pressures of a modern newsroom. The fellows should have a particular interest and curiosity about European affairs, as the prizes aim to help continental writers better understand Britain and British writers better understand the continent.

What is this year’s subject?

How healthy is democracy in the European Union? You can answer this question at the European, regional and/or national level.

How to apply:

Please send a submission on the subject above, together with a CV and covering letter. The submission can be:

  • an unpublished written article, blog post 
  • data-rich essay of max 850 words (pdf or doc)
  • an unpublished 2-minute video (avi or mp4)
  • an unpublished 2-minute podcast (mp3) 

Please make sure you submit your work in one of the formats specified. Big files can be sent using a file transfer or file hosting service or by submitting a password-protected link.

Entries should be sent, by the closing date of April 5th 2019, by e-mail to ncprize@economist.com

Shortlisted candidates will be asked to provide confirmation of their citizenship.

Successful applicants will be notified by the end of May 2019.

Previous Winners

John Prideaux, US editor, The Economist

“I had been thinking about academia then decided that wasn’t for me. But I wasn’t sure what to do instead. The Nico Colchester fellowship kindled my enthusiasm for journalism because I figured out this was something I could do.”

John was awarded the Nico Colchester fellowship in 2003, spending three months at the Financial Times in Brussels. After the fellowship, he wrote freelance for The Economist and the New Statesman for some time. Eventually, he became an intern at The Economist, which led to a job covering British politics. He has been there ever since, at the moment as US editor.

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Viktoria Dendrinou, Brussels correspondent, The Wall Street Journal

“The Nico Colchester fellowship actually changed my professional plans. I enjoyed it so much I decided to pursue a career in journalism.”

Viktoria was awarded the Nico Colchester fellowship in 2011, spending three months at The Economist in London. Afterwards, she went on to Reuters, starting as an intern, and then moved on to Breakingviews, the commentary side of Reuters, writing mainly about macroeconomics. In the Spring of 2014 she began working for the Wall Street Journal in Brussels and is still here covering EU economic and financial news.

James Politi, World trade editor, Financial Times

“The Nico Colchester fellowship launched my journalism career in a way that I will always be thankful for, giving me a passion for the newsroom, writing and reporting.”

James was awarded the Nico Colchester fellowship in 2000, spending three months at the Financial Times in London. He then joined the FT’s graduate trainee scheme, eventually taking up the role of US deals correspondent in New York, covering Wall Street. He later moved to Washington as economics and trade correspondent, and is now Rome Bureau Chief.

Jennifer Rankin, Brussels correspondent, The Guardian

“The Nico Colchester fellowship award has had a decisive impact on my life, as I had never contemplated working in Brussels or following European politics before starting my internship.”

Jennifer was awarded the Nico Colchester fellowship in 2006, spending three months at The Economist in Brussels. After the fellowship, she spent five years as a freelance journalist in Brussels and Moscow, working for the Scotsman, the Irish Times and Reuters. In 2012 she joined The Guardian in London and in 2016 was appointed Brussels correspondent for The Guardian.

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Monika Pronczuk

Originally from Warsaw, Poland, Monika holds a BA from King’s College London and an MA in International Affairs from Sciences Po Paris. Before joining the FT, Monika worked for OKO.press, a Warsaw-based fact-checking media outlet.

She spent three months on the World News desk at the FT’s London office. During that time, she wrote and edited articles on European and global politics, from Poland to the USA. She has also reported on Brexit, from the situation of European nurses in NHS to EU homeless to tax breaks. Since her fellowship Monika has covered for the FT’s Poland correspondent, reporting on the arrest of a Chinese Huawei employee and the murder of Gdansk mayor.

Ellen Halliday

Originally from Edinburgh, Ellen has a BA from the University of Cambridge and an MA in the History of Political Thought from the Queen Mary, University of London. Before joining The Economist, she lived and worked in Italy for two years. 

Ellen spent one month at The Economist’s London HQ and two months reporting from Brussels. During that time she wrote for the Europe and Finance sections, covering topics including Luxembourg’s elections, Schengen border controls, receipt lotteries and Europe’s potato shortage. She was also able to contribute to Espresso and The Economist Explains. 



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