I'm glad Owen Jones is starting his own thing. A lot of us have been at this for a while now...
A new alternative media has been growing for some time. It’s in newsletters, Twitch streams and on YouTube...
|Mic Wright||Nov 7, 2020|
Owen Jones gets a lot of shit. As one of the few left-wing columnists in the British media, he’s often shot by both sides — not left enough for the Left and too left for the Right. I like Owen. I haven’t always but I warmed to him through watching him on YouTube, which is where I think he’s done a lot of his best work. In his YouTube interviews, he’s been able to talk to people from wildly different political traditions to him and talk to them without compromising on his positions. Now, after The Guardian cut his old video channel, he’s relaunching it as an independent.
Inevitably the endlessly unpleasant pustule Paul Staines of Guido Fawkes has already taken a swing at Jones, the argument seemingly being that right-wing bobbleheads like Darren Grimes are entirely to start and raise cash for their own channels but Owen Jones is not.
There is nothing that Owen could do, save for a full political u-turn, that would satisfy the Guido gang, and I am keen to see the new material Jones produces.
You knew there was going to be ‘however’ didn’t you?
However, I was a mildly irked for a moment by one element of the marketing in Owen’s promo video: To promote his new endeavour he frames the situation as a mainstream media drifting rightwards and there being no real alternative to that.
I understand why he used that framing. In marketing something new it helps to define a clear gap where it will fit and to slather on a little bit of hype. If Owen had said, “I’m starting an alternative and it’ll fit in with the many other alternative outlets, big and small, that are producing stuff that offers a counterweight to the prevailing narrative…” then it wouldn’t have sounded remotely as exciting.
Owen has been a frequent guest on Novara — one of the longer-running alternatives to the establishment media — and, credit to him retweeted my shameless piggybacking on his announcement to promote this newsletter. I want to hear more prominent left voices who do get onto mainstream channels lifting up smaller outlets — Twitch streamers like Sinan Kose who are producing interesting discussions multiple times a week, YouTubers like Tom McNicholas who break down complex concepts in really compelling ways, and newer news sites like Voice Britannia.
One benefit Owen has is the jumpstart of a big media platform. He earned that prominence through his writing and campaigning, but it is a huge advantage over a lot of the smaller players on YouTube and Twitch especially, who have built from nothing. For an effective alternative media to work, we need to collaborate and cooperate, harnessing solidarity to increase everyone’s reach rather than working to produce our own new ivory towers. I hope many flowers bloom.
And if you want to watch an example of a good collaboration, check out last night’s Pop-Punk Stream from Sinan’s Twitch, which features me as part of the panel taking the frivolous output of pop-punk golden age very, very seriously.