Striving to fill a massive gap in British news media, The Common Sense Network offers a solution to the lack of media plurality which sees just 3 companies own 71% of the UK’s newspaper market and the crippling polarisation that exists between the political left and right. TCS is attempting an ambitious yet possible task of having a 100% public funded news network for millennials by millennials, taking back ownership of our stories from the old boys whilst creating a platform for us all to engage with.
Chijioke: 1] What is The Common Sense and why is it needed?
Mike: “The Common Sense Network is a multi-channel news network that produces content focused on news, social commentary and cultural issues. We are the answer to the lack of media plurality in the UK and the solution to the divide that currently exists between left and right. The network is 100% public funded which means normal people like yourself get a chance to control your own news media company, but also exciting is that TCS attempts to bring left and right together in one room in an attempt to find a common sense.
People are tired of mainstream media’s narrow and self-interested narrative. With 3 media moguls controlling 71% of the national newspaper market and just two companies having almost 40% of all commercial local analogue radio licences, rest assured there are powers working overtime to distort media in their favour because where there is big money there is big interest. Don’t be fooled by the nice veneer, these outlets are systematically corrupt and only care about their big sponsors, Murdock, The Koch brothers and other lesser likes. They don’t care about the truth and are totally profit driven. Such outlets cannot be trusted with the public good.
TCS network will provide an avenue for disenfranchised millennials like ourselves to be critically engaged with politics, current affairs and news. It’s pretty hard to deny that news media in the UK is broken. Also true is that ignoring the problem won’t make it go away. I don’t think media plurality is a luxury in such a digital age, it’s a necessity. This is why we need TCS; we want independent media that can hold power to account and serve audiences and the public in general as opposed to shareholders, proprietors or politicians.”
Chijioke: 2] Wow it really is needed, talk to me about some of this content you speak about?
Mike: “The Common Sense Network operates through three different arms, Scribe, Optics, and Modal.
Scribe refers to the online platform we are creating for articles, political commentary, opinion pieces, investigative journalism and anything else that involves words. These days, everyone has a media company on their phone and doesn’t know it, TCS will harness this, providing a platform for all types of opinions and perspectives, all typified by that CS brand. Common sense news reporting that shoots from the hips.
Optics refers to our online programming available to our members on-demand. Optic will feature a whole host of shows, in particular, our flagship show, The Common Sense. This show will see two hosts from differing political sides (e.g. right and left) come together to report the news and also debate issues, with a centrist mediator attempting to find some ‘common sense‘ amongst the two views.
Modal refers to our evolving events side of the network, this features live debates, merchandise, events and so much more. For example, TCS network also plans to go on a University live debate tour in January 2018, watch this space!
Chijioke: 3] That’s amazing, so tell us a bit about yourself and your inspiration to create The Common Sense?
Mike: “So I’m about to complete a Masters in Political Science (Philosophy and Politics) – Democracy and Elections with plans to move onto a PhD next year. I’ve also previously completed an Undergraduate degree in Politics Philosophy and Economics. I’ve spent the best part of over 11 years working within politics and news media from a
local level to an international level. That sounds fancy but really what I’ve been doing is arguing with strangers locally, nationally and internationally.
The inspiration for TCS really stems from frustration. Frustration at just how arrogant mainstream news media has become. For too long the establishment and media elites have ruled largely by maintaining the status quo. Big money still controls our media distorting the role of media in the first place. This is about ‘ownership’, taking ownership from the British media elite who have been content ‘keeping things as they are’ for decades, and redistributing this to young people like ourselves.”
Chijioke: 4] Okay that sounds great, but what will make The Common Sense different from any other news network?
Mike: “The Common Sense will be different because of two main things, firstly it will at all times encourage free speech amongst our hosts and contributors. The show will offer straight talking news that shoots from the hips. The Common Sense’s mantra is #SayWhatYouNeedToSay which encourages raw, impassioned and honest debate about issues that millennials care about, whilst also combatting polarisation and balkanisation.
Secondly, The Common Sense is different from any other news network because it will be 100% public funded and people will be able to have a real sense of ownership over the platform. Members will be able to vote for what is next debated about on the show; choose staff members and engage in other exciting ways that the mainstream platforms have failed to do.”
Chijioke: 5] You speak about The Common Sense showing both sides of the argument but also encouraging free speech, do you think both of these can realistically be achieved or will one hold more weight than the other?
Mike: “That’s a good question, I mean free speech will always be encouraged as the show will have no filters (except for when speech is deemed to incite violence), but yes I most definitely think that both of those things can be realistically achieved as long as we have a mediator which reflects an impartial view and can critically challenge both hosts (the mediator will receive training for this task!).”
Chijioke: 6] How can people reading this get involved with the next steps of The Common Sense journey?
Mike: “So for anyone that’s made it up to here, thank you! For all of these ideas to work, we’re going to need money so we’ve launched our KickStarter campaign aiming to raise £100,000. Yep I know it sounds like a lot, but that’s where you come in. If you believe in our idea, see the need and feel the passion then I urge us all to help make this a reality. The money will go towards equipment, staff, office space, a website, the University Tour and generally to establish The Common Sense.
Check out our fundraising campaign video to get a visual flavour, and if you like it please please share! The Fundraiser only has 19 days left so we don’t have a lot of time. As soon as you see news about it, give but also share it with everyone you know! We are doing something that’s never been done in the UK before so we need all the help we can get!