Ask the Editors: Four Years of ‘What the Papers Don’t Say’
Rolling Q and A with our editor Hardeep Matharu, our political editor Adam Bienkov, and founders Stephen Colegrave & Peter Jukes about the last four years of Byline Times and our plans for the future
Four years ago, Byline Times was born – to some surprise and scepticism. Why, at time when sales of established print titles was declining, did we think it was a good idea to bring a new newspaper to market?
The answer was the same now as it was then: because there is a crisis in Britain’s politics which is not separate from the crisis in its journalism.
From the phone-hacking scandal to the 24/7 social media age, billionaire proprietors advancing their private interests over the public interest, clickbait and the merger of the media and political classes culminating in disaster in recent years, the established press is an entire bloc in Britain that receives little to no scrutiny. And yet, its influence is still considerable, when it comes to setting the parameters of public discourse whispered into the ears of those in positions of power.
The question has to be: why?
We were delighted when the public seemed to agree with the newspaper’s mission. Over four years, 23,000 of you have subscribed to Byline Times’ monthly print newspaper and helped support our work. This means we can have mainstream impact but outside of the system – as we are beholden to no oligarchs, reliant on no government bungs, or subject to any clickbaity adverts. This has enabled us to be truly independent.
But what does mainstream impact outside of the system look like?
Over just four years, Byline Times has been ahead of the curve on so many stories that the established press are only just catching up on – either because they haven’t been excavating the underlying currents of Britain today and haven’t seen them coming or because it has been in their interests not to reveal certain truths.
This includes the PPE contract scandal during the pandemic and the new oligarch class of Conservative donors and supporters it shed light on. Russian interference and why Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine was sadly unsurprising. The Cambridge Analytica scandal and the lack of accountability that remains around interference in elections. The relevance of the legacy of Empire to today’s ‘culture wars’ and how identity is not a monolith in modern Britain today. Boris Johnson’s favours from the son of an ex-KGB agent. Government subsidies paid by the Government to the established newspapers at a time of declining sales during the Coronavirus virus. The ‘herd immunity’ scandal at the heart of the crisis which is likely to have cost thousands of lives. The crisis of ‘balance’ and ‘opinions’ at the heart of the BBC and its infiltration by the Conservative Party. NHS data being sold to big tech. The Tufton Street think tanks and the concerning culmination of their work through ‘Trussonomics’. The introduction of voter ID.
In all these areas and more, Byline Times brought you the information before any other newspaper. Indeed, many of them were branded ‘conspiracy theories’ at first!
And so to mark the newspaper’s fourth anniversary, its editors want to answer your questions about any of these stories, what it’s like to run a newspaper outside of the system, what you’d like to see us tackle next, and much more.