Corbyn Media Watch: How to Challenge British News Coverage

By Jane Whyatt
The English press is under fire from supporters of the new leader of the opposition, Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn. A veteran left-wing MP, he has been accused in newspapers including the Sun and the Daily Mail of extremism, disrespect to the Queen and scruffy appearance.

Corbyn’s response has been to use social media and email to contact Labour voters, rather than talking to newspaper and TV journalists. Since the latest YouGov survey reveals that the UK media is the most right-wing in Europe, this is a logical move.

One of Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters - dubbed ‘Corbynistas’ by the right-wing newspapers, is Declan Seachoy. He runs Corbyn Media Watch, a Facebook community that shares alternative coverage of the Labour leader and has more than 18,000 followers.

It is devoted to providing alternative news coverage about Corbyn, the leader of the Opposition. But Seachoy says it is not officially connected to the party nor to Corbyn’s political staff.

Reporting what is neglected

Interviewed by ECPMF, Seachoy said he started Media Watch when Jeremy Corbyn was elected as Opposition leader. “He was speaking at a rally that was completely packed out, and there were hundreds of people outside the hall who couldn’t get in. I can’t remember when any politician has attracted that level of support in recent times. Yet it wasn’t reported in the mainstream press”, he claims.

Indignant, Declan Seachoy created a meme to show Facebook followers how Labour party membership has tripled under Corbyn. He also posts videos of the leader in action in the House of Commons.

And he includes stories which – he claims – are suppressed by editors because they reflect badly on the Conservative government.

An example is the case of a mother, Frances McCormack, whose son hanged himself. Consequently, the room was left empty – and McCormack was therefore obliged to pay the ‘bedroom tax’, a fee charged to social housing tenants who have more bedrooms in their homes than residents.  In despair, she took her own life in the same way as she faced eviction, addressing her suicide note to the Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron whose government introduced the new tax.

The Online-Community as Watchdog

Seachoy says he takes care to check all his facts, using research skills he acquired in his recent studies in Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Manchester University. And if he posts anything inaccurate, his followers are quick to point it out  “I used a picture of a man who had been shot by police in a drugs raid, and his sister-in-law got in touch right away to correct the story, saying that no drugs were found.” With 18,000 Facebook followers he gets plenty of corrections and suggestions, and admits that taking care of the accuracy of his posts is becoming almost at full-time job.

The Corbyn Media Watch curator hopes that he is helping the Labour leader he admires. He insists that he tries to post responsibly so as to avoid causing the party any embarrassment. But he admits that  - although they met briefly during the leadership election – Jeremy Corbyn probably does not even know he exists.