Telling a fairer story
Why is it so hard to win support for a fairer London when equality is better for everyone?
A project proposal from MFL activist Adrian Renton
Both in the UK and globally in recent years, there has been a continuing accumulation of capital and wealth (and so power) into fewer and fewer hands, almost independently of the political leanings of the parties of government.
More equality and fairness in societies delivers stronger health and well-being as well as social and economic prosperity. But the fairness focus has been on monetary and physical resources and advocating and campaigning for government, political parties or business to deliver or adopt practices, policies or laws to redistribute these resources. But achieving greater equality and fairness requires both electing people/parties who wish to deliver these and maintaining a news narrative which allows them to deliver. There is ample evidence of the strong effects that news and current affairs media has on the formation of the opinions and voting choices of the people who make up the electorate, and the ways ‘big data’ platforms target voters with political messages. However, equality of access to, and power in the control of the media is extremely limited. Apart from the BBC almost all the consumed wholesale and retail outlets for news and news narratives, whether delivered through print, online news, social media, or broadcasting are owned by a small number of companies, and many of them in turn controlled or owned by super-rich individuals. Unsurprisingly the explanatory narratives that our media owners enforce systematically push a world-view that favours their interests: that inequality is natural, that there is no alternative to the ‘free-market’, that neoliberal economics are true.
And the pandemic has further highlighted how vulnerable our society is to flawed or biased reporting.
My Fair London has started to think about ways to challenge the status quo. Starting with the 2021 Mayoral and GLA elections we are collaborating with the Media Reform Coalition on a project that seeks to:
- Deliver a manifesto for News in London and lobby Mayoral and GLA candidates and parties in the 2021 elections to commit to its key elements
- Conduct content analysis of news coverage of the Mayoral Election
- Conduct polls of how Londoners think news media and news narratives can be improved
- Secure resources and partnerships to deliver a longer term strategy for rebalancing and democratising ownership and control of the news media in London and beyond to deliver accurate factual information
- Create a London media Watchdog which scrutinizes media practices that marginalize public interest, minority and dissenting viewpoints
- Secure partnerships with organisations concerned with inequalities in resource distribution, population health and wellbeing, climate change and justice to raise awareness of the importance of media and secure funding for new evidence generation
- develop a longer-term strategy for rebalancing and democratising ownership and control of the news media in London and beyond to deliver accurate, factual information
- Explore the creation of an umbrella organisation (a cooperative?) to bring together independent news platforms and third sector organisations to consider how they can work together
To create and sustain a fairer London we also need a more balanced, open, trustworthy and diverse media.
For further information and if you’d like to get involved in this project please contact: [email protected]