I came across a column in a publication I read regularly and am very fond of. This column contained a somewhat unfavourable opinion of news site The Canary. While I disagree with what was written I don’t wish to mention the publication. After all, whoever wrote that column is absolutely entitled to their opinion and I still hold that publication in high regard. In fact it is one of the best when it comes to investigative journalism and satire. I do however think that what was written was rather unfair and I want to defend The Canary.
A lot of the criticism levelled at The Canary in the aforementioned column focused on an article about the suicide note of a junior doctor. The use of an image of the deceased junior doctor was cited as one example of what was wrong about the article. It was felt, it seems that it contravened guidelines expressed by The Samaritans regarding how not to report the contents of a suicide note.
What struck me about these criticisms (there are others I haven’t mentioned, I feel they are unnecessary) is they lacked objectivity. I’m a firm believer that context is important when you wish to judge someone or indeed something. To dissect one article and not the overall content of the site does not and cannot reflect the ethos and message of what they are producing as content. The writer describes The Canary as ‘clickbait’ (I paraphrased that as the original quote is even harsher) pointing out the style of headlines used on the site.
Lets compare two headlines from The Canary and from BBC News and see how different they are
The Canary: ‘This very real threat could kill 10m people a year by 2050’ http://goo.gl/Ci9E5k
BBC News: ‘Woman in court after 11 children bitten by dog in Blyth park’ http://goo.gl/khsIiQ
There perhaps needs to be a bit of a debate on what clickbait actually is as all major news outlets write headlines in a similar style. This is due to the need to generate clicks because of the ad-based online newspaper system. Of course the BBC doesn’t need to do that as they are funded through license fees but when every other news site writes this way there is very little choice except to follow suit.
Behind these news sites are journalists, some freelance, some on fixed salaries and some unpaid, All are under pressure to come up with the goods and get those much-needed clicks. While it is quite possible that the writers at The Canary make mistakes as does every news site, a cursory glance at The Canary’s content reveals articles you won’t see on the red tops or even the broadsheets, all of whom are financed by wealthy private businessmen. It is abundantly clear that the journalists writing for The Canary have a progressive mindset, they care about issues affecting the public. Issues like the privatisation of the NHS, racism and xenophobia & cuts to vital public services to name a few.
The Canary supports progressive politics but has no affiliation to any particular party or politician. Yes they defend Jeremy Corbyn robustly but that’s understandable and admirable given the relentless smear campaign that the mainstream press launched against the current Labour leader ever since he was voted in by the public.
I’m sure the writers at The Canary are motivated by their passion for justice and fairness. I doubt very much they make much money from what they do. Yes, they use headlines designed to arouse attention, they have to. If you click-through those headlines, you will find informative well written pieces with positive calls to action. What you won’t find is links to ridiculous videos and promises of scantily clad women the likes of which you can find (please don’t though) on some of the worst offenders passing themselves off as ‘newspapers’
I support The Canary. I would like to write for them one day as I share their vision for social justice. So my call to action is go and see what they are about.
The Canary Website: www.thecanary.co
The Canary Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/TheCanaryPosts
The Canary Twitter Page: https://twitter.com/TheCanarySays