Someone left a message on the Another Angry Voice Facebook page saying that my blog is too left-wing to qualify as an independent blog and that I should be more like the right-wing blogger Paul Staines (Guido Fawkes)!
Independent vs Unbiased
The most important thing to note is that, like many other people, this advice comes from someone who has clearly confused meaning of "independent" and "unbiased".
I'm an independent blogger, because unlike Guido I don't take any money whatever from political campaign groups, political lobbyists, corporations or billionaire right-wing press barons like Rupert Murdoch. The only source of income for Another Angry Voice is small Pay as You Feel donations from people who appreciate my work.
The Guido Fawkes website generates advertising revenue from corporations and is currently running adverts from several corporate PR agencies and political lobbying companies (like MIPPR and PLMR). It is also advertising some online gambling/Brexit campaign crossover website called Sovereign Draw. The Another Angry Voice website hosts no adverts whatever.
Paul Staines was also happy to take cash from Rupert Murdoch for writing a column for The S*n, and admits that he is willing to continue working with the Murdoch press in the future. I have never taken any money from any mainstream press organisation, and I will never work for, or alongside the Murdoch press.
The only people I'm beholden to are the individuals who fund my work through their Pay as You Feel donations. I won't tailor my content to them though. As far as I'm concerned the kind of people who donate to AAV are doing so on the understanding that their donations allow me to keep complete editorial freedom over my work. However if some people take offence at anything I've written, they're absolutely free to cancel their subscriptions.
Anyone who believes that Paul Staines (a former Murdoch employee who hosts adverts for Brexiters political lobbyists on his website) is more "independent" than I am really needs to have a good think about what the word "independent" actually means.
I'm not "unbiased" and I have never claimed to be. In fact I have often explained that I have biases, and warned people that anyone who tries to claim that they are unbiased is being blatantly misleading (see image).
I am perfectly willing to admit that I am biased in favour things like social justice, openness and freedom. These biases don't stop me from criticising Labour, the SNP, the Greens etc when I feel it's warranted, however the Tories are in government now, so they tend to get the bulk of the criticism.
I'm also much more likely to criticise overtly right-wing groups like the Conservatives, UKIP, the BNP and Britain First because I strongly oppose right-wing economic ideology and the kind of divide and conquer fearmongering favoured by right-wing political parties.
If anyone thinks that Guido Fawkes is unbiased there's something severely wrong with their political perception, because he's clearly rabidly right-wing and extremely Eurosceptic. Maybe he might appear unbiased to some people because his political slant is very similar to that of the right-wing press, but that doesn't mean he's unbiased, it just means he has similar political biases to billionaire propaganda barons like Rupert Murdoch, Jonathan Harmsworth, and the Barclay Brothers.
I'm not having a go at Paul Staines, he's perfectly entitled to express his political opinions just as I'm entitled to express mine, and he's free to make money from his writing in whichever way he chooses. In fact he sometimes does a good job of exposing political corruption, so we're not absolute opposites. I just think that it's worth noting that he is biased in some ways and I'm biased in others.
The distinction between "independent" and "unbiased" is a very important one. I have never, and will never claim to be unbiased because I'm not. I take exception at people who claim that I'm not independent though. I'm pretty sure that AAV would be a hell of a lot more profitable if I blathered this site in adverts and the kind of appalling sponsored clickbait links that so many other websites do, but I choose not to do this because I think that accepting donations only from my readers is the best way to ensure that I keep complete editorial freedom to write about whatever subjects I choose.
I will certainly not be acting on the advice to make myself more like Paul Staines. In fact I'm absolutely determined that I will never ever write columns for the Murdoch press or generate advertising revenue from political lobbyists, right-wing anti-EU campaigners or corporate PR firms. If I ever do, feel free to call me a stinking hypocrite and cancel your subscriptions.
Another Angry Voice is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.