The British media exists to maintain the status quo, says Clive Lewis

Clive Lewis
Support us and go ad-free

Labour MP Clive Lewis told a packed audience that the British media is “fit for purpose”, on 16 March. But this wasn’t meant as a compliment. He explained that we have “a media system” that is “fit for the political economy we are in”.

Fit for the establishment

The point the former BBC journalist was making is that it is not an accident that the establishment press reports the way it does. The press, including the BBC, reports the way it does because it ‘reinforces’ the establishment status quo. That status quo is corporate, individualistic, and neoliberal. In this worldview, governments are meant to allow ‘markets to self-regulate’, with minimal ‘intervention’. According to the speakers, the majority of the political and professional class accepts this view as an article of faith.

The MP for Norwich South made his comments during the 2019 Media Democracy Festival. The Canary attended the event, which featured workshops, talks, and discussions.

Pushing austerity

James Meadway, economist and former adviser to John McDonnell, gave a perfect example of establishment bias in the mainstream media:

Meadway also said that every economics textbook will tell you that the worst thing to do during a recession is to cut government spending. During a recession, businesses are already cutting spending, and even going bust, he said. And so what society needs during a recession is more government spending, not less.

Yet alternatives to austerity are hardly, if ever, discussed by the establishment press.

Lewis pointed out:


Tom Mills, author of The BBC: Myth of a Public Service, also made this point during a discussion about ‘reforming’ the BBC:

Sarah O’Connell, who has worked with the BBC for many years, said:

She noted with concern that:

Bradford is just “one place” O’Connell exclaimed and “the north” is a huge region.

Faiza Shaheen discussed a cringe-worthy story about working with the BBC:

Everyone agreed the problems with the BBC ran deep:

Democratise the media

The Media Reform Coalition (MRC) released its Manifesto for Media Reform 2019 and it will be available online soon. It calls for democratising the BBC. It also recommends making the TV licence fairer by linking it to internet access and council tax bands rather than simply ownership of a TV or use of BBC IPlayer.

The Canary reported last year on Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s proposals to help democratise British media.

In 2018, Mills and Dan Hind, co-presenter of the Media Democracy podcast, wrote a chapter on media democracy, for an ebook called New Thinking for the British Economy.

Mills warned that:

Mills said:

New Thinking for the British Economy is available for free.

Progressive media reform

Justin Schlosberg, of the MRC, told the audience:

So it’s up to all of us to make that happen.

Featured image via BBC iPlayer

Support us and go ad-free

Get involved

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us