A mainstream journalist’s attack on Novara Media has totally backfired

Novara Media logo next to a picture of journalist James Ball
Joshua Funnell

The independent media outlet Novara Media has come under attack by a mainstream journalist challenging its business model. But Novara hit back, as did others, mounting a defence of its work on Twitter.

The attacker

The attack came from Buzzfeed and Guardian contributor, James Ball. Ball is best known for turning his back on the whistleblowing media organisation WikiLeaks. And he’s known, more recently, for showing support for the payday lending service, Wonga.

Ball took issue with Novara’s new fundraising model, tweeting that:

He added that his criticism wasn’t personally aimed at Ash Sarkar, the senior editor of Novara, who posted the tweet he responded to:

But this didn’t go unnoticed by Sarkar herself, who responded:

A terrible argument

Ball’s criticism that voluntary journalism harms other professional journalists’ wages was challenged.

Novara co-founder Aaron Bastani claimed there’s a glaring hole in Ball’s argument. He argued that if independent media operated to Ball’s liking (in terms of wages), it would be funded by business or private wealth:

Journalist Abi Wilkinson also challenged Ball directly on this point:

Wilkinson added that:

Writer Richard Seymour also responded:

Ball getting his facts wrong?

Ball then changed tack. He shifting from debating the ethics of voluntary journalism and instead questioned Novara‘s legal standing, claiming it’s a company with shareholders:

But the Novara team quickly showed this to be incorrect:

Ball kept doling out the criticism though, which Novara continued to call out:

Jealously, fear, or a smear campaign?

These kind of attacks on independent media outlets by mainstream media figures tell a story. Independent media is gaining influence and holding the powerful, including the mainstream media, to account. This appears to be creating resentment with media gatekeepers.

But rather than spending time and energy attacking independent media outlets, the media should be challenging the powerful. That is, after all, what journalism is meant to be: holding power to account.

Featured images by YouTube and YouTube

Get involved

  • We actively invite you to question what you read at The Canary, to follow the hyperlinks we reference, and to search for more information.
  • Learn more about the ongoing media revolution.


We need your help ...

The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.

Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.

We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.

Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?

The Canary Support us