At Now Then, we’re a localised part of a growing swell of independent media outlets, aiming to counterbalance the corporate media’s wealth-influenced propaganda. The idea of Manufacturing Consent, coined by Herman & Chomsky’s 1988 study, has long been recognised as identifying the mechanisms by which large media organisations can control public opinion. They are in turn influenced by the multinationals who advertise with them, via political parties and think tanks whose PR teams are also funded by big business interests.

Since the recession, the well-publicised advocates of right-wing ideology have pounced on the drawn out recovery and austerity ill-feeling to indiscriminately lambast a fabricated cartel of ‘experts’ and promote an illusion of ‘populism’ that has legitimised lowest common denominator attitudes.

These views have been branded as anti-establishment, but a closer look at those fuelling the right-wing rhetoric can hardly be described as independent. The combined daily circulations of the Daily Mail, Metro (also owned by Daily Mail’s publisher, DMG Media), the Evening Standard (also part-owned by DMG Media) and The Sun account for more than half of the daily newspaper circulation and the Mail Online boasts 14m unique web browsers per day. More likely, it’s born from the rich aiming to increase their wealth by protecting their interests. So while it’s reported to be anti-establishment, events have more likely played into the hands of wealthy funders who’ve backed the think tank reports and advertising adorning these dailies’ pages.

But all is not gloomy. Campaigns such as #StopFundingHate have exerted pressure on corporations’ advertising policies while influencing the dominant narrative by persuading consumers to question their choices. But in the wake of reinforced nationalism and conservatism through recent national votes, it has become clear that alternative media sources are vital.

The Media Fund seeks to build on the independent media’s reach and support networks by ensuring a collaboration of non-mainstream media sources are able to continue to challenge the press’s propaganda. Outlets such as Salford Star and Manchester Meteor (formerly Manchester MULE) are similarly covering Greater Manchester, with Real Media, Open Democracy, Novara Media and New Internationalist among the 20-strong list of collaborators involved, combining important investgative journalism with voices of people unbiased by corporate media agendas.

The fund’s aim beyond its intial £10k fundraising target is to exist as a collaborative point of access between indie media platforms and interested parties. Different regional and national independent media groups can embark on joint campaigns, as well as highlighting each other’s work, and supporters can choose one-off payments or monhtly subscriptions to whichever specific platforms they favour.

It’s too easy to fall victim to Daily Mail click bait and become another statistic to ramp up their advertising sales, perpetuating their divisive bile. Instead, support independent media, hear about the positive campaigns near you, and get involved in improving your local environment, society and economy for all.

The Media Fund’s crowdfunder campaign is currently 56% of the way to its aim of hitting £10,000 by Wednesday 14 December, 2016.

Ian Pennington