For-profit

Novara Media

Location:

London, United Kingdom

Formation:

2011

Founders:

Aaron Bastani, James Butler

Novara Media is a British far-left media company that claims to report on address “issues that are set to define the 21st century,” which include the “crisis of capitalism,” racism, and climate change. The company writes “output actively intends to feed back into political action,” rather than moderate a debate between two sides. [1]

Co-founder Aaron Bastani has been criticized for calling the Poppy Appeal, the largest fundraising event by veterans’ charity The Royal British Legion, “absolutely sickening” and “grotesque” due to “triumphant militarism,” and claimed that it was “racist, right, it’s white supremacist.” [2] The Poppy Appeal, best known for its sale of ceremonial poppy lapel pins around the anniversary of the Armistice at the end of World War I, aims to raise money to provide services for military veterans and to remember those who fell in service during conflicts. [3]

Background

Novara Media is a far-left nonprofit media company based in London. It was founded in 2011 as a podcast by co-founders Aaron Bastani and James Butler, and later turned into a multimedia project. [4] The Guardian reported that Novara Media had “200 contributing writers, 700 supporters and 10,000 committed viewers and listeners,” as of 2017. [5]

Novara Media claims to address “issues that are set to define the 21st century,” which include the “crisis of capitalism,” racism, and climate change. It also notes that it is not unbiased, claiming that its “output actively intends to feed back into political action,” rather than moderate a debate between two sides. [6]

Funding

Novara Media became a partner of The Media Fund in 2017. The Media Fund is a left-of-center cooperative organization that raises money for left-of-center media outlets. Other partners of the fund include the Bristol Radical Film Festival, Corporate Watch, DeSmog UK, New Socialist, Open Democracy, and The People’s News. [7]

The fund’s strategic director, Thomas Barlow, claimed that “the idea is that any media organization that’s a partner with us is one you can trust in an age of understandable caution about your sources,” despite also noting his own bias by adding that mainstream media outlets in the United Kingdom seemed to be “egging on” President Donald Trump in 2017, during the latest British general election, and warned that If the United Kingdom did not elect the far-left Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, the country “could get a Trump.” [8]

Novara Media Ltd was forced to dissolve in 2018 by Companies House, the United Kingdom’s registrar of companies, after it failed to provide the government agency with a confirmation statement due on August 17, 2017. [9] As of February 1, 2019, Novara Media became a trading name of the non-profit company Thousand Hands Ltd. [10]

Novara Media’s main source of funding comes in the form of donations and subscriptions, which start as low as £3 (approximately $3.73) a month. According to its website, the outlet will use the money to build “a legacy – guaranteeing a place for strong, politically-committed left-wing institutions,” and “present diverse left perspectives.” [11] The media company was also granted £3,000 (approximately $3730) from the Barry Amiel and Norman Melburn Trust in 2016. [12]

Controversies

Novara Media’s co-founder Aaron Bastani has been heavily criticized for inflammatory comments against military charity The Royal British Legion and the Poppy Appeal.

The Poppy Appeal is the largest fundraising event of the charity and is held every year in November, the period of public observance in the United Kingdom culminating in Remembrance Day observed on the 11th, the anniversary of the Armistice ending hostilities in World War I. Cities across the U.K., dedicate one day during the month to distributing paper poppies to the public[13] to raise money for services available to military veterans, and to remember service personnel who “lost their lives on active service in all conflicts.” [14]

Bastani tweeted on November 7, 2018, that it was “absolutely sickening that as a country Britain spends £45 million (approximately $55 million) to feel good while 13,000 ex veterans are homeless.” The Novara Media co-founder then went on to ask “when was the last time the Royal British Legion challenged the government on homelessness and public services? Joke.” [15]

In another instance, Bastani called the Poppy Appeal “grotesque” due to “triumphant militarism,” and claimed that it was “racist, right, it’s white supremacist.” Bastani, who has been described as former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s “attack dog,” was criticized by senior Labour figures, who called for him to be removed from the left-wing party. [16]

Bastani has also been criticized for his views on communism after one of Novara Media’s contributing editors Ash Sarkar shouted during an interview “I’m literally a Communist.” The video of Sarkar, taken from British morning television show Good Morning Britain, was posted on the Novara Media YouTube channel, and has received over 1.5 million views. [17]

During an interview with Bastani on the BBC show Daily Politics, host Jo Coburn criticized him and Novara Media for selling t-shirts with the slogan “I’m literally a Communist” on the front, questioning if the media company’s co-founder was “romanticizing a murderous ideology?” Former Times columnist Matthew Parris added that he believes “murders, the repression, the oppression are a necessary consequence of the communist ideology.” [18]

References

  1. “About.” Novara Media. Accessed May 4, 2020. https://novaramedia.com/about/. ^
  2. Mailonline, Alexander Robertson For. “Corbyn ‘Attack Dog’ Sparks Fury with Vile Comments about Poppies and Royal British Legion.” Daily Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, November 8, 2018. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6367747/Corbyn-attack-dog-sparks-fury-vile-comments-poppies-Royal-British-Legion.html. ^
  3. “Who We Are: Armed Forces Charity: Royal British Legion.” The Royal British Legion. Accessed May 4, 2020. https://www.britishlegion.org.uk/about-us/who-we-are. ^
  4. “About.” Novara Media. Accessed May 4, 2020. https://novaramedia.com/about/. ^
  5. Khomami, Nadia. “Fund Launched to Create Independent Media Free from Rightwing Bias.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, October 2, 2017. https://www.theguardian.com/media/2017/oct/02/fund-launched-to-create-independent-media. ^
  6. “About.” Novara Media. Accessed May 4, 2020. https://novaramedia.com/about/. ^
  7. “The Media Partners.” The Media Fund. Accessed May 4, 2020. https://themediafund.org/about-us/the-media-partners/ ^
  8. Khomami, Nadia. “Fund Launched to Create Independent Media Free from Rightwing Bias.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, October 2, 2017. https://www.theguardian.com/media/2017/oct/02/fund-launched-to-create-independent-media. ^
  9. Walker, James. “Novara Media Ltd Dissolved by Companies House after Failing to File Document.” Press Gazette, January 3, 2018. https://www.pressgazette.co.uk/novara-media-ltd-dissolved-by-companies-house-after-failing-to-file-document/. ^
  10. “About.” Novara Media. Accessed May 4, 2020. https://novaramedia.com/about/. ^
  11. “Support.” Novara Media. Accessed May 4, 2020. https://novaramedia.com/support/. ^
  12. “Novara Media.” Barry Amiel & Norman Melburn Trust, February 25, 2016. http://www.amielandmelburn.org.uk/awards/novara-media/. ^
  13. “Poppy Appeal: Armed Forces Charity: Royal British Legion.” The Royal British Legion. Accessed May 4, 2020. https://www.britishlegion.org.uk/get-involved/ways-to-give/poppy-appeal. ^
  14. “Who We Are: Armed Forces Charity: Royal British Legion.” The Royal British Legion. Accessed May 4, 2020. https://www.britishlegion.org.uk/about-us/who-we-are. ^
  15. Mailonline, Alexander Robertson For. “Corbyn ‘Attack Dog’ Sparks Fury with Vile Comments about Poppies and Royal British Legion.” Daily Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, November 8, 2018. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6367747/Corbyn-attack-dog-sparks-fury-vile-comments-poppies-Royal-British-Legion.html. ^
  16. Mailonline, Alexander Robertson For. “Corbyn ‘Attack Dog’ Sparks Fury with Vile Comments about Poppies and Royal British Legion.” Daily Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, November 8, 2018. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6367747/Corbyn-attack-dog-sparks-fury-vile-comments-poppies-Royal-British-Legion.html. ^
  17. “I’m Literally a Communist You Idiot .” YouTube. YouTube. Accessed May 4, 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JD7Ol0gz11k. ^
  18. Macwhirter, Jamie. “’Are You Romanticising a Murderous Ideology?’ BBC Host SHUTS DOWN ‘Communist’ Corbynista.” Express.co.uk. Express.co.uk, July 20, 2018. https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/991398/BBC-Daily-Politics-Aaron-Bastani-Jo-Coburn-Novara-Media-Communist. ^
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Novara Media

Flat 10, Marshall Court
London,
United Kingdom