'Canary-isation' of the media a concern for the left, says Owen Jones

Guardian columnist and activist Owen Jones has told PRWeek he is concerned about what he calls the "Canary-isation" of the political left.

This doesn't look right: Jones on The Canary
This doesn't look right: Jones on The Canary

Jones, an influential figure on the left since the success of his 2011 book The Demonization of the Working Class, was talking to PRWeek for an interview in the new edition of the magazine, out last week.

Asked about the health of the news media in the UK, he said: "We’re not North Korea, but most of our press is run by a very small group of politically motivated moguls."

Responding to a subsequent question about new media models, he added: "One example is The Canary - its pay-per-click model seems to have been working well for it, but it also really promotes conspiracy theories and a lot of things that just aren’t right."

Seen as a strongly pro-Corbyn title, The Canary was launched in October 2015 and has attracted attention for its model of distributing profits among writers by a pre-defined formula, leading many to describe it as a "pay-per-click" title.

That criticism has gone hand-in-hand with suggestions of sensationalism, for example over its claims last summer that the agency Portland had been orchestrating an attempted coup against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, which was followed by a death threat being sent to one of the firm's staff.

"I worry about the Canary-isation of the left, where it ends up in a bizarre sub-culture that anyone who doesn’t agree is seen as part of a conspiracy," Jones said, but goes on to acknowledge that these communities do exist "on the left and on the right".

  • Click to read the full interview with Jones, in which he describes how he doesn't think PRs are evil but wants to feel that they have a social conscience, and worries that he may be smeared as a "sushi socialist".

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