The Skwawkbox

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The Skwawkbox
The Skwawkbox logo.jpeg
Type of site
New media outlet
EditorSteve Walker
Websiteskwawkbox.org
Alexa rank2,571 (UK 10/2018)[1]
Launched2012

The Skwawkbox is a left-wing news blog based in the United Kingdom, founded in 2012 by Steve Walker.

Aims[edit]

It states that its aim is to "present information and analysis that will rarely make it into the mainstream media."[2] Founder Steve Walker has said: "The people we're trying to reach are what we call the outer parts of the Venn diagram. Not the real dedicated people on the left, but maybe their auntie or their uncle who reads their Facebook page."[3]

Content[edit]

The Skwawkbox has been noted to have a regular run of stories that "appear to have been briefed by insiders close to the top of the Corbyn project", suggesting that certain senior individuals in the Labour Party use it to get their messages out.[4][5] Its following on Twitter has also meant that it has been involved in rallying online support for key pro-Corbyn hashtags,[6] with the news blog also having been involved with emailing and petitioning MPs within the Labour Party.[7]

The Skwawkbox has regularly published exclusive interviews with Corbyn supporters such as Laura Pidcock and Chris Williamson. Skwawkbox's modus operandi has been described as "casting of doubt" on stories reported by others.[8]

In November 2017, The Skwawkbox published an article suggesting that the real death toll from the Grenfell Tower Fire was covered up, based on claims from "multiple sources" that the government had placed a "D-notice" on coverage,[9] although a correction was subsequently published.[10] There was no such notice, which led MailOnline and The Sun in turn to publish articles accusing the site of spreading 'fake news'.[9] Walker complained about the MailOnline and Sun articles to the Independent Press Standards Organisation, which found there had been no breach of the editors' code of practice.[9] Other complaints against both publications regarding inaccuracy in their articles were upheld.[11]

In June 2019, The Skwawkbox reported that Luciana Berger was set to join the Liberal Democrats and would stand for election in Finchley and Golders Green in the next parliamentary election.[12] The report was attacked by Jewish Chronicle journalist Lee Harpin as "utter dog ***".[13] Later that year, Harpin reported[14][15][16] that Berger had joined the Liberal Democrats and was standing in Finchley and Golders Green.

Libel case[edit]

In November 2019, Labour MP Anna Turley sued Unite the Union and Steve Walker, editor of The Skwawkbox, for libel in respect of an article which appeared on The Skwawkbox on 7 April 2017.[17]

On 19 December 2019, following a six-day trial at the Royal Courts of Justice, Turley won the libel claim against Unite and Walker and was awarded damages of £75,000.[18][19] The judge Mr Justice Nicklin found that there were "no reasonable grounds to suspect [Turley] of any form of dishonesty in relation to her joining Unite Community.”[19] Unite has indicated that an appeal will be lodged.[20]

Regulation[edit]

The Skwawkbox subscribes to independent, Leveson-compliant press regulator IMPRESS. In March 2018 Skwawkbox considered cutting ties with IMPRESS following the publication of a controversial 1961 political pamphlet by key IMPRESS supporter Max Mosley;[21] however, it has remained a member.[22] According to the regulator's 2017/18 annual report, it upheld three complaints against The Skwawkbox in the year up to 31 March 2018, the most of any member over the period. The same number of complaints were dismissed.[23]

In November 2018, IMPRESS ruled against The Skwawkbox for breaching standards in its reporting on Labour MP Wes Streeting. The complaint upheld was that the publishers did not take all reasonable steps to ensure accuracy, because Streeting had only been given four hours to respond to the blog's enquiry.[24] The panel did not make a judgment on the factual accuracy of the article.[25]

In August 2019, NewsGuard gave Skwawkbox a green approval mark with a pass on all relevant criteria,[26] saying that Skwawkbox "generally maintains basic standards of credibility and transparency" and commenting that "[a]rticles on The Skwawkbox, while agenda-driven, are typically fact-based and well-sourced, citing interviews or official statements from political leaders and activists, primary documents such as government reports, and subject ­matter experts. Links to supporting documents, social media posts, and other sources are often embedded in articles. Headlines accurately reflect content."[27][28]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Skwawkbox.org Traffic, Demographics and Competitors". Alexa. Retrieved 2018-08-08.
  2. ^ "About the SKWAWKBOX and the aim of this blog". The Skwawkbox. Retrieved 2018-06-05.
  3. ^ Andrew Harrison. "Can you trust the mainstream media?". The Guardian. Retrieved 2018-08-08.
  4. ^ Jim Waterson (2017-05-06). "How A Small Group Of Pro-Corbyn Websites Built Enormous Audiences On Facebook". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved 2018-06-05.
  5. ^ "Corbynites call on Tom Watson to resign with new Twitter campaign". LabourList. 2018-03-25. Retrieved 2018-08-08.
  6. ^ "Anatomy Of A Tweetstorm: Looking At The Numbers Behind #ResignWatson". Gizmodo UK. 2018-08-04. Retrieved 2018-08-08.
  7. ^ Anne Perkins Deputy political editor. "Jeremy Corbyn decries abuse of antisemitism protest MPs". The Guardian. Retrieved 2018-08-08.
  8. ^ Corbynism: A Critical Approach, Emerald Group Publishing, By Matt Bolton, Frederick Harry Pitts, pages 242-243
  9. ^ a b c Matthew Moore (2017-11-10). "Corbynista site Skwawkbox published fake news about Grenfell death toll, Ipso rules". The Times. Retrieved 2018-08-08.
  10. ^ "D-notice update #Grenfell". The SKWAWKBOX. 2017-06-16. Retrieved 2018-09-18.
  11. ^ "SKWAWKBOX 1, Murdoch 0 – S*n corrects #fakenews about this blog". The SKWAWKBOX. 2017-07-13. Retrieved 2018-09-18.
  12. ^ SKWAWKBOX (2019-06-19). "Berger to 'join LibDems and stand in Finchley'". The SKWAWKBOX. Retrieved 2019-10-05.
  13. ^ "lee harpin di Twitter: "This story is utter dog *** Can understand Liv Echo enquiring and running a denial. But there are people who should know much better using it to spark entire fake news debates. skwawkbox.org/2019/06/19/berger-to-join-libdems-and-stand-in-finchley/ … via @skwawkbox"". web.archive.org. 2019-10-05. Archived from the original on 2019-10-05. Retrieved 2019-10-05.
  14. ^ SKWAWKBOX (2019-09-06). "Both parts of S'box Berger exclusive attacked as fake news now in 'mainstream' media". The SKWAWKBOX. Retrieved 2019-10-05.
  15. ^ "Luciana Berger joins Liberal Democrats amid speculation she may stand in north London". www.thejc.com. Retrieved 2019-10-05.
  16. ^ "Luciana Berger to stand for Lib Dems in Finchley and Golders Green". www.thejc.com. Retrieved 2019-10-05.
  17. ^ Chiara Giordano (2019-11-12). "Labour candidate 'not fit to be MP', libel case told". The Independent. Retrieved 2019-11-20.
  18. ^ "Anna Turley libel trial: Former Labour MP wins £75,000 damages". BBC News. 19 December 2019. Retrieved 19 December 2019.
  19. ^ a b "Turley-v-Unite 2019 EWHC 3547 QB Final for handdown" (PDF). Judiciary.uk. Retrieved 19 December 2019.
  20. ^ "Unite statement on Turley legal case". unitetheunion.org. Retrieved 2019-12-21.
  21. ^ Tobitt, Charlotte. "Skwawkbox among Impress members considering cutting ties with regulator over Daily Mail's Max Mosley revelations". Press Gazette. Retrieved 2018-06-05.
  22. ^ "Regulated Publications". IMPRESS.press. Retrieved 2018-09-18.
  23. ^ Tobitt, Charlotte. "Left-wing website The Canary most complained about Impress-regulated publication of 2017/18". Press Gazette. Retrieved 2019-02-07.
  24. ^ "Skwawkbox rapped by Impress for giving Labour MP four hours to respond to 9pm request for comment". Press Gazette. 27 November 2018. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  25. ^ "Complaint Adjudication - 171/2018 | IMPRESS". impress.press. Retrieved 2019-02-15.
  26. ^ SKWAWKBOX (2019-08-16). "Newsguard corrects SKWAWKBOX reliability rating to perfect score". The SKWAWKBOX. Retrieved 2019-08-16.
  27. ^ "Newsguard Nutrition Label". api.newsguardtech.com.
  28. ^ SW (27 May 2019). "SKWAWKBOX APPROVED BY NEWSGUARD FOR TRUST AND RELIABILITY". Skwawkbox. Retrieved 4 August 2019.