The Canary (website)

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The Canary
The Canary logo.png
Type of site
New media outlet
EditorKerry-Anne Mendoza
Revenue£250,000 (2016)
Websitewww.thecanary.co
Alexa rank2,804 (UK 02/2018)[1]
Launched2015
Current statusActive

The Canary is a left-wing news website based in the United Kingdom, which editor-in-chief Kerry-Anne Mendoza says is "here to disrupt the status quo of the UK and international journalism, by creating content that compels audiences to view the world differently".[2] While it focuses on UK political affairs, it also has a "Global" section, a satire section ("Off the Perch"), and "Science", "Environment", and "Health" sections.[3]

History[edit]

The Canary was created in October 2015 with five founding members in an attempt to "diversify the media", according to editor-in-chief Kerry-Anne Mendoza.[4] The website is funded by advertising and monthly contributions from around 1,500 supporters.[5]

A major factor motivating The Canary's founders, Mendoza said, was scepticism of the mainstream media, a scepticism shared by Corbyn. In his first address as Labour leader, he attacked pundits for not understanding the discontent among many ordinary British voters, and talked about the "power of social media".[5]

Business model[edit]

In April 2016, Mendoza said in Free & Fearless (a magazine produced by Hacked Off) that:

we are attracting an audience of 3.5 million unique users per month. On top of this: every two hours, 24 hours a day, seven days a week – someone becomes a paid subscriber of The Canary ... Our growing traffic is attracting advertisers who are now offering us a floor RPM (payment per 1,000 hits) of £3 and a ceiling of £9."[2]

The website explains its business model: "Each writer and section editor is paid in two ways. Firstly, each and every article receives a flat-rate equal payment from our monthly income from supporters. So with each new supporter, the pay per article goes up for everyone every month. Secondly, each article receives a top-up payment based directly on the percentage of web traffic, and therefore advertising income, that articles generate during a given calendar month."[6] This pay-per-click model has been criticised for promoting clickbait as writers are only paid for their work if it becomes viral.[7] Mendoza disputes this, claiming that the payment structure means that people who generate the revenues get a fair share.[5]

In 2016, the website had an editorial team of around 30, although only 5 of The Canary's staff earn enough money to work full-time.[5] As of the end of 2018, according to the website, it has five main editors and around 30 active contributors.[8] The Canary had a turnover £250,000/year in 2016 according to Mendoza.[9]

Regulation[edit]

In August 2017 it was announced that The Canary had joined the voluntary state-approved press regulator IMPRESS.[10]

The Media Bias/Fact Check[11] website rates the site's level of factual reporting as "HIGH".[12] In a video posted on Twitter in November 2018, The Canary insisted that "in the last 3 years, we've published more than 9,000 unique articles" and that "the number of significant mistakes can be counted on one hand". It also stressed "when we make mistakes we don't try to bury our corrections". [13][non-primary source needed]

Political standpoint[edit]

Describing her website to Journalism.co.uk, Canary editor-in-chief Kerry-Anne Mendoza said that:

For us, this is ultimately about democracy. Informed consent in the public is the bedrock of democracy, and if that informed consent isn't there because people aren't aware of the kind of information that they need to be, they won't be equipped to make the decent democratic decisions that they need to, say, for example, on climate change, the justice system, or whether austerity is a positive economic policy.[4]

The Canary is generally supportive of Jeremy Corbyn, the current leader of the Labour Party, but has also supported Natalie Bennett (former leader of the Green Party) and the Greens' "radical alternative" to the "Tory-lite" policies of "the neoliberal Labour Party" asserting "The Green Party's rise to viability preceded the election of Jeremy Corbyn" and the emergence of Momentum.[14]

Mendoza claims that The Canary's news coverage was not biased, and that it was "a complete coincidence" that the website was created shortly after Corbyn's leadership victory. "We don't have any affiliations with political parties, we don't have any affiliations with political organisations, and we're not actually ostensibly left-wing", she added, calling the site's editorial stance "a counterpoint to conservative media" and "broadly liberal".[15]

The website did not have a standpoint on the 2016 EU referendum.[16]

Responses[edit]

Support[edit]

Max Keiser, in his programme for the RT channel, has said that the site "really digs into some of the salient points that need to be made about austerity", saying in an interview with Kerry-Anne Mendoza that he has "been following this site for a while now".[17] Former Respect MP George Galloway also praised the website on his show Sputnik, also for RT.[18]

Criticism[edit]

Critics have seen The Canary as symptomatic of a specific worldview they believe motivate supporters of Jeremy Corbyn. Jasper Jackson in the New Statesman labelled sites like The Canary as "hyper-partisan", owing to its mainly pro-Corbyn content.[19] Michael Deacon in The Daily Telegraph described it as the "maddest left-wing website in the world"[20] and Private Eye commented it was a "pisspoor Corbynite clickbait factory"[5][7] and a publisher of fake news.[21]

The Canary has also been criticised by some political pundits on the left, such as Owen Jones, who told PR Week that the website "really promotes conspiracy theories and a lot of things that just aren't right. 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. But then you do get those blogs on left and right."[22]

Jones and David Aaronovitch also criticised Kerry-Anne Mendoza for comparing Zionism to Nazism on BBC Radio 4 as part of her critiques of alleged Israeli war crimes.[23] These sentiments would be echoed in a Sunday Times investigation into Labour Party antisemitism, which criticised The Canary for an article entitled "The inconvenient truths that prove it is not anti-semitic to compare Israel to Nazi Germany", which juxtaposed an image of Nazi Germany to that of Jerusalem in 2014.[24] "It's the perfect journal for Corbynism in that it has no connection to reality", Nick Cohen wrote for The Observer.[5] Carl Miller of Demos told Alex Spence of the Politico website that while the "digital world" has been "democratizing", he has mixed feelings.

The Canary is an echo chamber. It’s reflecting a single worldview [cut in the source]. Corbyn’s opponents are the enemy; the Tories are contemptible, and so on. These echo chambers cut down on dissenting information, they eliminate us happening on other points of view. This is likely to make people even angrier, more outraged, more certain that that [sic] people we disagree with are evil... This isn’t good for our capacity to hold reasoned, civil debate in public life.[5]

Additionally, The Canary's criticism of Charlie Brooker's 2016 Wipe, a satirical programme, was widely criticised. Accusing the show of "jaw dropping" character assassination, Canary author Jack Davies described the show as "a hatchet job on Jeremy Corbyn in its section on the Labour leadership election". In particular, Davies argued that a clip of Corbyn being unable to recognise Ant and Dec was used unfairly against Corbyn. Davies wrote that Brooker's comment ("If you think that's tough, try getting him to recognise Ant n' Semitism") in his view "cements a fabricated smear campaign from media pundits, the pro-Israel lobby, Conservative MPs, and Blairites who all have a common enemy: Corbyn".[25]

This criticism was widely mocked on social media by both supporters and opponents of Jeremy Corbyn. Brooker jokingly said to the author beforehand that "We originally planned a 25min pro-Corbyn musical number but our shadowy Blairite handlers insisted we scrap it".[26] The New Statesman's Media Mole responded to the controversy by suggesting humorous pro-Corbyn joke alternatives.[27]

Notable articles[edit]

The Canary has published a number of stories which have been notable enough to be picked up by mainstream media outlets.

Electoral fraud investigations[edit]

Regarding allegations of electoral fraud in the 2015 general election, The Canary "dug into assorted expense claims and activities in several such seats crucial to Cameron's success", according to Michael White in the Guardian.[28] A whistleblower contacted the website into allegations of telephone push polling, claiming that people acting for the Conservative Party also paid telephone companies to conduct misleading surveys on voters which were biased in favour of the Conservatives, thus breaking election law in regard to the private polling they are allowed to do during campaigns.[28][29][30]

Suicide story[edit]

The coverage The Canary gave to a junior doctor committing suicide was criticised by Private Eye for flouting Samaritans' guidelines on the coverage of such stories.[31]

Portland Communications story[edit]

A piece by Steve Topple alleging that a parliamentary coup d'état against Corbyn was being co-ordinated by Portland Communications and the Fabian Society went viral on pro-Corbyn social media, and was repeated by Len McCluskey, the general secretary of the Unite union, on Andrew Marr's Sunday morning BBC programme. The piece was widely dismissed as a conspiracy theory.[15][32][33]

Tom Watson, US presidential campaign, and anti-ISIS march[edit]

In an article for The Independent in December 2016, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party Tom Watson announced that the Labour Party was commissioning an inquiry into fake news websites following the election of Donald Trump as President-elect of the United States.[34] Following Watson's comments, BuzzFeed News mentioned an anonymous source working with the campaign, who alleged that The Canary would be targeted for the campaign.[35] This prompted a response from editor and founder Kerry-Anne Mendoza, who incorrectly accused Watson of figure-heading "an anti-Corbyn coup" and said that "the man Tom Watson has placed in charge of the inquiry is anti-Corbyn MP Michael Dugher, who has written for the Daily Mail and The Sun. This, and other signs, point to this inquiry being no more than a witch hunt against Watson's political enemies on the left", accusing Watson of double standards when it comes to The Canary.[21][36]

However, in November 2016, BBC News stated that during the 2016 US presidential campaign, The Canary misled "with claims that 'a major media outlet just revealed who won the US election... a week in advance'."[37] The Canary article further claimed that "many have suggested the election is rigged. In October, the BBC and The Guardian both ran stories questioning the veracity of the election results".[38] The BBC stated that its article in question assessed "the validity of claims that the US election is rigged, finding that there's 'no justification for concern about widespread voter fraud'", but did not predict the outcome of the US election.[37]

The organisation also rewrote a story originally on MintPress News regarding an alleged anti-ISIS march.[21][39] BuzzFeed News countered, "This week has seen millions of Shiite Muslims participate in Arba'een, one of the world's largest pilgrimages, in Iraq. But they are not specifically marching against ISIS, nor has there been a 'media blackout'".[40] Mainstream publications such as The Independent, The Washington Post, the International Business Times and Reuters all commented on the story, mentioning that the pilgrimage was part of the traditional Arbaeen pilgrimage and not a specifically anti-ISIS demonstration.[41][42][43][44] Additionally, BuzzFeed noted that the MintPress article was sourced from American Herald Tribune, a website edited by Canadian professor Anthony Hall, a 9/11 and Sandy Hook shooting conspiracy theorist who had been suspended from his job at a university on charges of anti-Semitism.[40]

Laura Kuenssberg[edit]

The Canary has been critical of Laura Kuenssberg's coverage of Jeremy Corbyn on BBC News.[45] In the wake of the on-air resignation of Labour MP Stephen Doughty, and promoted a petition hosted by 38 Degrees (which was later taken down) which called for her resignation.[46][47] The Canary responded by repeating Craig Murray's allegations that the petition was taken down due to "Establishment pressure",[48] as opposed to the assertion from 38 Degrees that the petition was taken down due to "sexist and hateful abuse made towards Laura Kuenssberg".[49]

Ian Middleton in The Huffington Post also wrote that: "if one looks at the list of comments published ... it's difficult to find anything remotely aggressive or sexist" and the accusations of abuse "may have been part of an orchestrated campaign on behalf of those looking to discredit the petition itself".[50]

In September 2017, The Canary published a false story that Kuenssberg would speak at the following week's Conservative Party conference. The site made the claim on the grounds that she had been "invited" in an email. While The Canary later modified its article to acknowledge the BBC's rejection of its story, the claim had quickly gone viral. Helen Lewis, deputy editor of the New Statesman, said that the site targets Kuenssberg as "a traffic-driver for hate-clicks".[51][52] Impress, the press regulator, later adjudicated in December 2017 that the website "did not correct this significant inaccuracy with due prominence" and broke its code by "misrepresenting facts" and "failing to take all reasonable steps to ensure accuracy prior to publication".[53]

It later emerged that Kuenssberg would need a bodyguard when attending the party conference for fear of attacks from 'abusive trolls'.[54][55][56]

Between the withdrawal of the 38 Degrees petition in May 2016 and 20 July 2017, according to Jasper Jackson of the New Statesman, The Canary ran "at least 17 articles specifically criticising Kuenssberg.[45]

Readership[edit]

During July 2016, The Canary achieved over 7.5 million page views, ranking 97th in readership among British media organisations, slightly higher than The Spectator and The Economist. The site's publishers, Canary Media, rose 47 spots from 126th in June to 79th in July among the top UK publishers.[57] The majority of its site traffic comes from Facebook.[5]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "thecanary.co Traffic Statistics". Alexa. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
  2. ^ a b Mendoza, Kerry-Anne (April 2016). "The Canary is a new media outlet shaking up journalism in a radical way" (PDF). Free & Fearless. Hacked Off. p. 6. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
  3. ^ "Official website". The Canary. 14 August 2016. Retrieved 14 August 2016.
  4. ^ a b Scott, Caroline (23 October 2015). "How news outlet The Canary aims to 'diversify media'". Journalism.co.uk. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Spence, Alex (18 August 2016). "Jeremy Corbyn and the disruptive Canary". POLITICO. Retrieved 30 November 2017.
  6. ^ "Values". 4 December 2018. Retrieved 4 December 2018.
  7. ^ a b "Canary Wings It" (JPEG image). Private Eye (1419). Pressdram Ltd. 26 May 2016. p. 10.
  8. ^ "Team". 4 December 2018. Retrieved 4 December 2018.
  9. ^ Mayhew, Freddy (20 October 2016). "The Canary: From £500 start-up to top-100 UK news website in the space of a year". Press Gazette. Retrieved 22 March 2018.
  10. ^ Mayhew, Freddy (24 August 2017). "The Canary joins Impress to become alternative press regulator's 66th member". Press Gazette. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  11. ^ "Media Bias/Fact Check". 4 December 2018. Retrieved 4 December 2018.
  12. ^ "Media Bias/Fact Check". 4 December 2018. Retrieved 4 December 2018.
  13. ^ "Take a fresh look at The Canary". The Canary. 4 December 2018.
  14. ^ "The Green Party just got an opportunity to become the next big contender". The Canary. 16 May 2016. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
  15. ^ a b Le Conte, Marie (10 August 2016). "How A Pro-Corbyn Viral Website With A Pay-Per-Click Business Model Is Taking Over Social Media". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 15 August 2016.
  16. ^ "Reply to comment". Facebook. The Canary. Retrieved 8 June 2016. We don't have a stance either way.
  17. ^ Kerry-anne Mendoza, Editor-in-Chief of The Canary. Keiser Report. RT UK. 1 February 2016.
  18. ^ Galloway, George. "'Sputnik' with George Galloway". RT Shows. Episode 138.
  19. ^ Jackson, Jasper. "Hyper-partisan Corbynite websites show how the left can beat the tabloids online". New Statesman.
  20. ^ Deacon, Michael (26 February 2016). "Great news for Corbynistas... it's the maddest Left-wing website in the world". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 4 June 2016.
  21. ^ a b c "Faking it". Private Eye (1433). Pressdram Ltd. 9 December 2016. p. 8.
  22. ^ Burne-James, Sam (9 January 2017). "Grilled: Owen Jones, Guardian columnist, author, activist... and sushi socialist?". PRWeek. Retrieved 25 January 2017.
  23. ^ "Anti-Semitism on the Left (15:00 – 18:50)", The Briefing Room, BBC Radio 4
  24. ^ Ungoed-Thomas, Jon; Shipman, Tim; Pogrund, Gabriel (22 April 2018). "Anti-semites lurking in Jeremy Corbyn's Twitter nest". The Times.
  25. ^ Davies, Jack (3 January 2017). "The jaw-dropping moment Charlie Brooker character-assassinated Jeremy Corbyn". The Canary.
  26. ^ York, Chris (4 January 2017). "The Canary Tried To Take Down Charlie Brooker And It Didn't Quite Go To Plan". The Huffington Post.
  27. ^ Media Mole (4 January 2017). "What jokes would The Canary allow Charlie Brooker to make about Jeremy Corbyn?". New Statesman.
  28. ^ a b White, Michael (1 June 2016). "Why is there so little noise about the Tory election fraud claims?". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 June 2016.
  29. ^ Editorial (2 June 2016). "The Guardian view on policing elections: harder, but no less important". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 June 2016.
  30. ^ Crick, Michael (21 June 2016). "Could referendum 'push-polling' influence the result?". Channel 4 News.
  31. ^ "Canary in the Pit" (JPEG image). Private Eye (1418). Pressdram Ltd. 26 May 2016. p. 7.
  32. ^ Singleton, David (29 June 2016). "Is it true that a PR firm full of Blairites is orchestrating the Labour coup?". New Statesman. Retrieved 21 August 2016.
  33. ^ "Canary in the Pit (pt 94)". Private Eye (1424). Pressdram Ltd. August 2016. p. 8.
  34. ^ Watson, Tom (22 November 2016). "Tom Watson: 'Fake news' is changing the way we see the world". The Independent. Retrieved 10 December 2016.
  35. ^ Waterson, Jim (22 November 2016). "Labour Is Promising A Long Campaign Against Fake News". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved 10 December 2016.
  36. ^ Mendoza, Kerry-Anne (23 November 2016). "Tom Watson announces plan to shut down 'fake news', by launching a witch hunt to censor his critics [EDITORIAL]". The Canary. Retrieved 10 December 2016.
  37. ^ a b "US election: Fake news becomes the news". BBC News. 7 November 2016. Retrieved 10 December 2016.
  38. ^ Gay, Jessica (4 November 2016). "A major media outlet just revealed who won the US election… a week in advance". The Canary. Retrieved 10 December 2016.
  39. ^ Gay, Jessica (24 November 2016). "A massive march just happened in Iraq, but you won't find the UK media reporting it [TWEETS]". The Canary. Retrieved 10 December 2016.
  40. ^ a b "Facebook Trending Promoted A Misleading Story About A Muslim Pilgrimage". BuzzFeed. 24 November 2016. Retrieved 24 November 2016.
  41. ^ Sims, Alexandra (24 November 2016). "You probably haven't heard about this Muslim pilgrimage in defiance of Isis". The Independent. Retrieved 10 December 2016.
  42. ^ Christia, Fiotini; Dekeyser, Elizabeth; Knox, Dean (21 November 2016). "Shiites are participating in the world's largest pilgrimage today. Here's how they view the world". Washington Post. Archived from the original on 25 November 2016. Retrieved 10 December 2016.
  43. ^ Sim, David (21 November 2016). "Arbaeen: Millions of Shia Muslims gather in Karbala in world's largest annual pilgrimage". International Business Times UK. Retrieved 10 December 2016.
  44. ^ "Tight security for annual Shi'ite pilgrimage in Iraq's Kerbala". Reuters. 21 November 2016. Retrieved 10 December 2016.
  45. ^ a b Jackson, Jasper (20 July 2017). "Do the Canary and co have the skill and stamina to take on the popular press?". New Statesman. Retrieved 30 November 2017.
  46. ^ Bloodworth, James (9 May 2016). "Beware those critics that prefer Putin's propaganda to the BBC". International Business Times UK. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
  47. ^ Dunt, Ian. "The activist left is conspiring in the demolition of the BBC". politics.co.uk. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
  48. ^ "Petition to sack BBC's Laura Kuenssberg was 'probably' removed 'under establishment pressure', says former UK ambassador". The Canary. 11 May 2016. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
  49. ^ Jackson, Jasper (10 May 2016). "Laura Kuenssberg petition taken down over sexist abuse". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 May 2016.
  50. ^ Middleton, Ian (12 May 2016). "It's Going to Take More Than an Online Petition to Stamp Out Bias at the BBC". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  51. ^ Lewis, Helen (27 September 2017). "The Canary is running a sexist hate campaign against Laura Kuenssberg for clicks". New Statesman. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  52. ^ Di Stefano, Mark; Waterson, Jim (27 September 2017). "This Website Said Laura Kuenssberg Agreed To Speak At A Tory Event, Even Though She Hadn't". Buzz Feed. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  53. ^ "Canary's story about Laura Kuenssberg 'breached press code'". BBC News. 20 December 2017. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  54. ^ Walker, Peter (24 September 2017). "BBC political editor given bodyguard for Labour conference". The Guardian.
  55. ^ Buchan, Lizzy. "Laura Kuenssberg given bodyguard at Labour conference after online threats". The Independent.
  56. ^ Kingsley, Patrick. "Why the BBC's Star Political Reporter Now Needs a Bodyguard". The New York Times.
  57. ^ "UK Media Publishers and Publications – Ranked for July 2016". similarweb.com. Retrieved 19 September 2016.

External links[edit]