The Canary (website)
The Canary is a left-wing news website based in the United Kingdom. Its editor-in-chief Kerry-Anne Mendoza. While focusing on UK political affairs, it also has a "Global" section, a satire section ("Off the Perch"), and "Science", "Environment", and "Health" sections.
Type of site
|New media outlet|
|Alexa rank||4811 (UK 01/2019)|
The Canary was created in October 2015 with five founding members in an attempt to "diversify the media", according to editor-in-chief Kerry-Anne Mendoza. The website is funded by advertising and monthly contributions from around 1,500 supporters.
A major factor motivating The Canary's founders, Mendoza said, was scepticism of the mainstream media, a scepticism shared by Corbyn. In his first address as Labour leader, he attacked pundits for not understanding the discontent among many ordinary British voters, and talked about the "power of social media".
Follining the 2017 United Kingdom general election, the BBC reported that "Sites such as The Canary, The Skwawkbox, and Another Angry Voice are making a huge impact and earning a massive following."
In April 2016, Mendoza said in Free & Fearless (a magazine produced by Hacked Off) that:
we are attracting an audience of 3.5 million unique users per month. On top of this: every two hours, 24 hours a day, seven days a week – someone becomes a paid subscriber of The Canary ... Our growing traffic is attracting advertisers who are now offering us a floor RPM (payment per 1,000 hits) of £3 and a ceiling of £9."
According to the Canary's FAQ, around half of the website's revenue is raised from online advertising, and the other half from reader subscriptions.
The website explains its business model: "Each writer and section editor is paid in two ways. Firstly, each and every article receives a flat-rate equal payment from our monthly income from supporters. So with each new supporter, the pay per article goes up for everyone every month. Secondly, each article receives a top-up payment based directly on the percentage of web traffic, and therefore advertising income, that articles generate during a given calendar month." This pay-per-click model has been criticised for promoting clickbait as writers are only paid for their work if it becomes viral. Mendoza disputes this, claiming that the payment structure means that people who generate the revenues get a fair share.
In 2016, the website had an editorial team of around 30, although only five of The Canary's staff earn enough money to work full-time. As of the end of 2018, according to the website, it has five main editors and around 30 active contributors. The Canary had a turnover of £250,000/year in 2016, according to Mendoza.
Regulation and accuracyEdit
In a video posted on Twitter in November 2018, The Canary stated that "in the last 3 years, we've published more than 9,000 unique articles" and that "the number of significant mistakes can be counted on one hand". Similarly, The Canary said that, as of March 2019, it had produced 10,000 articles since its creation and two of these articles required deletion after editorial review, representing 0.02% of their content.
Mendoza has said "We are human beings and we make mistakes. We clean up the mess and make sure it’s clear to our readership".
Describing her website to Journalism.co.uk, Canary editor-in-chief Kerry-Anne Mendoza said that:
For us, this is ultimately about democracy. Informed consent in the public is the bedrock of democracy, and if that informed consent isn't there because people aren't aware of the kind of information that they need to be, they won't be equipped to make the decent democratic decisions that they need to, say, for example, on climate change, the justice system, or whether austerity is a positive economic policy.
The Canary is generally supportive of Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party, but has also supported Natalie Bennett (former leader of the Green Party) and the Greens' "radical alternative" to the "Tory-lite" policies of "the neoliberal Labour Party" asserting "The Green Party's rise to viability preceded the election of Jeremy Corbyn" and the emergence of Momentum.
Mendoza claims that it was "a complete coincidence" that the website was created shortly after Corbyn's leadership victory. "We don't have any affiliations with political parties, we don't have any affiliations with political organisations, and we're not actually ostensibly left-wing", she added, calling the site's editorial stance "a counterpoint to conservative media" and "broadly liberal". Mendoza also stated that The Canary was "biased in favour of social justice, equal rights – those are non-negotiable things. We’re in this as an issue-driven organisation", and stated: "Every press organisation has an editorial stance and we’re certainly no different."
Max Keiser, in his programme for the RT channel, has said that the site "really digs into some of the salient points that need to be made about austerity", saying in an interview with Kerry-Anne Mendoza that he has "been following this site for a while now". Former Respect MP George Galloway also praised the website on his show Sputnik, also for RT.
Jasper Jackson in the New Statesman labelled sites like The Canary as "hyper-partisan", owing to its mainly pro-Corbyn content. Michael Deacon in The Daily Telegraph described it as the "maddest left-wing website in the world" "It's the perfect journal for Corbynism in that it has no connection to reality", Nick Cohen wrote for The Observer. Carl Miller of Demos told Alex Spence of the Politico website that, while the "digital world" has been "democratizing", he has mixed feelings:
The Canary is an echo chamber. It’s reflecting a single worldview [cut in the source]. Corbyn’s opponents are the enemy; the Tories are contemptible, and so on. These echo chambers cut down on dissenting information, they eliminate us happening on other points of view. This is likely to make people even angrier, more outraged, more certain that that [sic] people we disagree with are evil... This isn’t good for our capacity to hold reasoned, civil debate in public life.
The Canary has also been criticised by leftwing Guardian columnist Owen Jones, who told PR Week that the website "really promotes conspiracy theories and a lot of things that just aren't right. I worry about the Canary-isation of the left, where it ends up in a bizarre sub-culture that anyone who doesn't agree is seen as part of a conspiracy. But then you do get those blogs on left and right."
A Sunday Times investigation into Labour Party antisemitism referenced an article in The Canary entitled "The inconvenient truths that prove it is not anti-semitic to compare Israel to Nazi Germany", which juxtaposed an image of a poster from Berlin in 1935 saying "Germans must only buy from Germans" with one in Jerusalem in 2014 saying that "Jews must only hire Jews".
In early 2019, an anonymous anti-fake news campaign, Stop Funding Fake News, was launched to pressure advertisers not to allow their ads to run on left-wing websites such as The Canary and Evolve Politics, and the right-wing Westmonster, which is backed by Arron Banks. The campaign was supported by Rachel Riley and promoted by Jewish News and Nick Cohen. It has led Macmillan Cancer Support to suspend advertising on the website while it reviewed online ad placement.
The Canary has published a number of stories which have been notable enough to be picked up by mainstream media outlets.
Electoral fraud investigationsEdit
Regarding allegations of electoral fraud in the 2015 general election, The Canary "dug into assorted expense claims and activities in several such seats crucial to Cameron's success", according to Michael White in the Guardian. A whistleblower contacted the website with allegations of telephone push polling, claiming that people acting for the Conservative Party also paid telephone companies to conduct misleading surveys on voters which were biased in favour of the Conservatives, thus breaking election law in regard to the private polling they are allowed to do during campaigns.
A report in The Canary about a junior doctor committing suicide was described by Private Eye as failing to follow Samaritans' guidelines on the coverage of such stories, despite quoting from the selfsame guidelines. Mendoza responded on social media: "we’ve so flustered the establishment they’re throwing a tantrum!"
Portland Communications storyEdit
A piece in June 2016 saying that that summer's parliamentary revolt against Corbyn "appears to have been orchestrated" by Portland Communications went viral on pro-Corbyn social media, and was repeated by Len McCluskey, the general secretary of the Unite union, on Andrew Marr's Sunday morning BBC programme. The article listed links between the PR firm and members of the centre-left Fabian Society within the Labour Party. It was widely dismissed as a conspiracy theory.
US presidential campaignEdit
In November 2016, BBC News stated that, during the 2016 US presidential campaign, The Canary misled "with claims that 'a major media outlet just revealed who won the US election... a week in advance'." The Canary article further said "many have suggested the election is rigged. In October, the BBC and The Guardian both ran stories questioning the veracity of the election results", but the BBC stated that its article in question assessed "the validity of claims that the US election is rigged, finding that there's 'no justification for concern about widespread voter fraud'".
Charlie Brooker's 2016 WipeEdit
In January 2017, The Canary described Charlie Brooker's 2016 Wipe, a satirical programme, as "a hatchet job on Jeremy Corbyn in its section on the Labour leadership election" which "cements a fabricated smear campaign from media pundits, the pro-Israel lobby, Conservative MPs, and Blairites". In particular, the Canary disliked a reference to 'Traingate' and suggestions that Corbyn was unable to recognise antisemitism and was unfit to be Prime Minister. This criticism was widely mocked on social media by both supporters and opponents of Jeremy Corbyn. Brooker jokingly said to the author beforehand that "We originally planned a 25min pro-Corbyn musical number but our shadowy Blairite handlers insisted we scrap it". The New Statesman's Media Mole responded to the controversy by suggesting humorous pro-Corbyn joke alternatives.
The Canary has been critical of Laura Kuenssberg's coverage of Jeremy Corbyn, and politics more generally, on BBC News, particularly following the on-air resignation of Labour MP Stephen Doughty, and promoted a petition hosted by 38 Degrees (which was later taken down) which called for her resignation. Between the withdrawal of the 38 Degrees petition in May 2016 and 20 July 2017, according to Jasper Jackson of the New Statesman, The Canary ran "at least 17 articles specifically criticising Kuenssberg. The Canary repeated Craig Murray's view that the petition was taken down due to "Establishment pressure", as opposed to the assertion from 38 Degrees that the petition was taken down due to "sexist and hateful abuse made towards Laura Kuenssberg". Ian Middleton in The Huffington Post contested this, writing that: "if one looks at the list of comments published ... it's difficult to find anything remotely aggressive or sexist" and the accusations of abuse "may have been part of an orchestrated campaign on behalf of those looking to discredit the petition itself".
In September 2017, The Canary published a story with the inaccurate headline that "(Kuenssberg's) listed as a speaker at the Tory Party conference". The article itself stated correctly that she had been invited to speak at a fringe event. The Canary later modified its headline to acknowledge that she was an invited speaker and added the BBC's statement, received after the publication deadline, that she would not be speaking at the event. However, Impress, the press regulator, adjudicated in December 2017 that the website had broken its code by publishing an inaccurate headline, not making sufficient efforts to check the facts with the event organisers or the BBC prior to publication, and failing to correct the inaccuracy with due prominence. Helen Lewis, deputy editor of the New Statesman, said that the site targets Kuenssberg as "a traffic-driver for hate-clicks".
During July 2016, The Canary achieved over 7.5 million page views, ranking 97th in readership among British media organisations, slightly higher than The Spectator and The Economist. The site's publishers, Canary Media, rose 47 spots from 126th in June to 79th in July among the top UK publishers. The majority of its site traffic comes from Facebook.
- "thecanary.co Traffic Statistics". Alexa. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
- "Official website". The Canary. 14 August 2016. Retrieved 14 August 2016.
- Scott, Caroline (23 October 2015). "How news outlet The Canary aims to 'diversify media'". Journalism.co.uk. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
- Spence, Alex (18 August 2016). "Jeremy Corbyn and the disruptive Canary". POLITICO. Retrieved 30 November 2017.
- Rajan, Amol (13 June 2017). "Five election lessons for the media". BBC. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
- Mendoza, Kerry-Anne (April 2016). "The Canary is a new media outlet shaking up journalism in a radical way" (PDF). Free & Fearless. Hacked Off. p. 6. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
- "About & FAQ". The Canary. Retrieved 8 April 2019.
- "Values". 4 December 2018. Retrieved 4 December 2018.
- "Canary Wings It" (JPEG image). Private Eye (1419). Pressdram Ltd. 26 May 2016. p. 10.
- "Team". 4 December 2018. Retrieved 4 December 2018.
- Mayhew, Freddy (20 October 2016). "The Canary: From £500 start-up to top-100 UK news website in the space of a year". Press Gazette. Retrieved 22 March 2018.
- Mayhew, Freddy (24 August 2017). "The Canary joins Impress to become alternative press regulator's 66th member". Press Gazette. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
- Tobitt, Charlotte. "Left-wing website The Canary most complained about Impress-regulated publication of 2017/18". Press Gazette. Retrieved 2019-02-07.
- Waterson, Jim (24 April 2019). "Untrustworthy news sites could be flagged automatically in UK". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 April 2019.
- Walker, James (24 April 2019). "US start-up Newsguard rolls out trust rankings for major UK newsbrands". Press Gazette. Retrieved 30 April 2019.
- Harrison, Andrew (6 August 2017). "Can you trust the mainstream media?". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
- "The Green Party just got an opportunity to become the next big contender". The Canary. 16 May 2016. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
- Le Conte, Marie (10 August 2016). "How A Pro-Corbyn Viral Website With A Pay-Per-Click Business Model Is Taking Over Social Media". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 15 August 2016.
- Water son, Jim (6 May 2017). "The Rise Of The Alt-Left British Media". Buzzfeed. Retrieved 31 March 2019.
- "Reply to comment". Facebook. The Canary. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
We don't have a stance either way.
- Kerry-anne Mendoza, Editor-in-Chief of The Canary. Keiser Report. RT UK. 1 February 2016.
- Galloway, George. "'Sputnik' with George Galloway". RT Shows. Episode 138.
- Jackson, Jasper. "Hyper-partisan Corbynite websites show how the left can beat the tabloids online". New Statesman.
- Deacon, Michael (26 February 2016). "Great news for Corbynistas... it's the maddest Left-wing website in the world". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 4 June 2016.
- Burne-James, Sam (9 January 2017). "Grilled: Owen Jones, Guardian columnist, author, activist... and sushi socialist?". PRWeek. Retrieved 25 January 2017.
- Ungoed-Thomas, Jon; Shipman, Tim; Pogrund, Gabriel (22 April 2018). "Anti-semites lurking in Jeremy Corbyn's Twitter nest". The Times.
- Frot, Mathilde (3 April 2019). "How a group of friends are fighting fake news – with a hand from Rachel Riley". Jewish News. Retrieved 7 April 2019.
- Frot, Mathilde (27 March 2019). "Anti fake news activists persuade cancer charity to remove advert on The Canary". Jewish News. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
- Cohen, Nick (19 March 2019). "The campaign to boycott the extremists who peddle fake news". The Spectator. Retrieved 7 April 2019.
- White, Michael (1 June 2016). "Why is there so little noise about the Tory election fraud claims?". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 June 2016.
- Editorial (2 June 2016). "The Guardian view on policing elections: harder, but no less important". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 June 2016.
- Crick, Michael (21 June 2016). "Could referendum 'push-polling' influence the result?". Channel 4 News.
- "Canary in the Pit" (JPEG image). Private Eye (1418). Pressdram Ltd. 26 May 2016. p. 7.
- Ball, James. Post-Truth: How Bullshit Conquered the World.
In another instance, the site ran a story titled 'A junior doctor has killed herself, leaving a message to Jeremy Hunt in her suicide note'. The piece failed to follow multiple ethical guidelines set out by the Samaritans, including not attributing suicide to a single source and not basing news stories on the contents of suicide notes
- Singleton, David (29 June 2016). "Is it true that a PR firm full of Blairites is orchestrating the Labour coup?". New Statesman. Retrieved 21 August 2016.
- "Canary in the Pit (pt 94)". Private Eye (1424). Pressdram Ltd. August 2016. p. 8.
- "US election: Fake news becomes the news". BBC News. 7 November 2016. Retrieved 10 December 2016.
- Gay, Jessica (4 November 2016). "A major media outlet just revealed who won the US election… a week in advance". The Canary. Archived from the original on 4 November 2016. Retrieved 2018-12-24.
- Davies, Jack (3 January 2017). "The jaw-dropping moment Charlie Brooker character-assassinated Jeremy Corbyn". The Canary.
- York, Chris (4 January 2017). "The Canary Tried To Take Down Charlie Brooker And It Didn't Quite Go To Plan". The Huffington Post.
- Media Mole (4 January 2017). "What jokes would The Canary allow Charlie Brooker to make about Jeremy Corbyn?". New Statesman.
- Jackson, Jasper (20 July 2017). "Do the Canary and co have the skill and stamina to take on the popular press?". New Statesman. Retrieved 30 November 2017.
- Bloodworth, James (9 May 2016). "Beware those critics that prefer Putin's propaganda to the BBC". International Business Times UK. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
- Dunt, Ian. "The activist left is conspiring in the demolition of the BBC". politics.co.uk. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
- "Petition to sack BBC's Laura Kuenssberg was 'probably' removed 'under establishment pressure', says former UK ambassador". The Canary. 11 May 2016. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
- Jackson, Jasper (10 May 2016). "Laura Kuenssberg petition taken down over sexist abuse". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 May 2016.
- Middleton, Ian (12 May 2016). "It's Going to Take More Than an Online Petition to Stamp Out Bias at the BBC". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
- "Canary's story about Laura Kuenssberg 'breached press code'". BBC News. 20 December 2017. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
- Lewis, Helen (27 September 2017). "The Canary is running a sexist hate campaign against Laura Kuenssberg for clicks". New Statesman. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
- Di Stefano, Mark; Waterson, Jim (27 September 2017). "This Website Said Laura Kuenssberg Agreed To Speak At A Tory Event, Even Though She Hadn't". Buzz Feed. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
- "UK Media Publishers and Publications – Ranked for July 2016". similarweb.com. Retrieved 19 September 2016.