A new article by the chair of the Media Reform Coalition, Professor Natalie Fenton, for the Culture Matters blog, argues that coronavirus has exposed the need for a radically different structural orientation in our media.
Coverage of the pandemic has revealed mainstream media to be an explicit channel for government PR spin, further propelling the revolving door between major news organisations and the government. Boris Johnson worked for the Telegraph and the Times. Michael Gove was a Times journalist. George Osborne became editor of the London Evening Standard. Allegra Stratton’s recent appointment as Rishi Sunak’s director of strategic communications is a friend of Dominic Cummings, and was national editor of ITV news and political editor of Newsnight. The list goes on.
What can we do about it? The deep entanglement of media power and political power is self-serving. Government favours large corporate media because they are dominant – and they retain their dominance because the government favours them. Concentration of media ownership keeps this relationship intact. So we must legislate for more plurality of media ownership, to create a sustainable communications environment that is innovative, diverse and fully independent of vested interests (whether these are commercial or political).
We need to encourage alternative models of media ownership such as cooperatives and employee buyouts, that promote equality and financial security of journalists over profit-making and shareholder returns, and serve a far wider range of needs and more diverse set of interests.
You can read the full article here.