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Media Alert 27 Feb

A round-up of the hottest takes from the best UK Indy Media


In this week’s edition of Media Alert:

  • Fall out from botched Corbyn Czech Smear
  • Our Picks of the Week

Media Alert is a weekly bulletin discussing issues impacting on the UK independent media and highlighting some of the best recent work from the sector.

It’s brought to you by The Media Fund, a co-operative of over 30 partners seeking to raise funds and advocate for quality independent journalism.


The Weeks Big Stories

Essential new from the frontlines of media politics

Corbyn Drama Shows Double Standards of Independent Media’s Critics

The collapse of recent McCarthyite allegations against Jeremy Corbyn has laid bare the hypocrisy at the heart of criticisms often leveled against UK independent media.

Speaking on BBC Question Time, Novara Media senior editor Ash Sarkar noted that the story of the Labour leader’s relations with Czech spy Jan Dymic, “was based on a single source who lacked credibility and was basically a fantasist. This really should not have made it past any quality newsroom.”

Of course, the story made it past several newsrooms.

Independent journalism is often criticised by the establishment sector around themes of poor journalistic standards, supposition, bias, echo chamber hyperbole and believing what suits them. All these behaviours have been firmly in place across the right wing press during this sorry saga, with even supposedly liberal elements as the BBC getting sucked in for a while.

Many ran the story and its contrived spin-offs extensively then tried to hide behind the “this is what others are saying” ruse when the idea that Corbyn was somehow up there with Kim Philby and Anthony Blunt quickly started to look absurd.

Even when the story was comprehensively blown out of the water, The Telegraph tried to keep running with the tone by enlisting John Dearlove to cast shallow aspersions against the opposition leader. That would be John Dearlove of “dodgy dossier” fame, as noted by Tom Pride.

Perhaps the offshore elites are emboldened by The Trump technique of lying brazenly, and seemingly unaccountably, in the hope that some impression of headlines will stick among members of a public that might be too bust of disinterested to follow up on the veracity of a story.

Novara Media placed the week’s events in a broader context, noting the febrile far-right politics of key press outlets, and how that contributes to an atmosphere that can incubate extremism and terror.

On the other hand, such smear attempts can backfire, as shown in an increase for support in the pro-Corbyn Momentum group of the Labour Party, detailed in this Guardian article by Nadia Khomami.

The reaction on either side of this story, be it duped delirium or indignant outrage, speaks of an increasingly polarised entrenchment in so much contemporary political discourse. While one side calls for reforms the other decide such calls are an attempt to “shut down” the free press (another red scare trope).

Media Fund founder, Tom Barlow concludes: “Attacks like the Czech Spy story last week actually increase support fro Corbyn because they are so farcical and patently false. The British public, of whatever political persuasion, do not appreciate attempts to so nakedly manipulate them.

“These kinds of attacks are the visible death-throes of a particular section of the news media desperately trying to remain relevant to their billionaire owners. Owners, by the way, who are all that stand in the way of these titles completely collapsing.”

Picks of the Week

Our hand-picked selections from some of the best independent journalism around

 Why the Do Not Believe in Free Markets – Guy Standing, Open Democracy

While conservatives often push free-market ideology to almost evangelical levels, there’s a good case that conservative politics in practice equates with corpocracy and kleptocracy, which have scant relation to genuine free-markets. This Open Democracy article lays out the case.

Find openDemocracy on Twitter @openDemocracy


‘It’s Become Intolerable for Me’ – Air Pollution & Real Lives – Real Media

As we’ve said before, climate politics has often been pigeon-holed as a “middle class” concern, even though the working class at home and abroad inevitably suffer first and most from a poor environment, Real Media have some insightful interviews with everyday Londoners detailing the effects of pollutions on their health.

Find Real Media on Twitter @RealMediaGB


£18 Million Planning Free Avoidance in Salford States Sheffield University Report – The Salford Star

Up and down the country councils have generations of dubious financial arrangements with developers behind them, which leaves local taxpayers even worse off in the wake of central government funding cuts. Sadly, the incisive independent local coverage of The Salford Star exhibited in this piece about £18m of fee avoidance, elude most towns and cities.

Find The Salford Star on Twitter @salfordstar09

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