Consumer pressure group Stop Funding Hate has been the focus of some controversy over the past few weeks – even more so than usual. It drew attention to the brands that were – knowingly or otherwise – advertising on GB News through Sky Media’s channels. Its goal by doing so was to remove the financial incentive for publishing what it considers to be hateful content.
As a result of that action across social media, it drew the ire of GB News’ most prominent figure, Andrew Neil, in addition to derogatory comments from The Daily Mail and The Daily Express that likened the group to the Kray Twins and urged readers to ‘strike a fatal blow’ against it. It also drew accusations from trade magazine Press Gazette that its main aim is the suppression of free speech.
Despite all this, Stop Funding Hate has in fact been developing more positive relationships with some of the titles it has been trading blows with. Its focus has shifted over the past few years, from being primarily aimed at three UK tabloids to taking a wider look at the entire media industry. The Daily Mail in particular is in conversation with Stop Funding Hate every few weeks, for instance.
The group’s co-founder, Richard Wilson, states that its ultimate goal is not to stifle free speech. Instead, he aims to develop those relationships with papers further, to facilitate conversations between the media and those who are often on the receiving end of what it considers to be hateful content – and to ultimately provide those groups with the tools they need to appeal on their own behalf.
The changing face of hate
Wilson says that when Stop Funding Hate began, it had a narrow focus on three titles – The Daily Mail, The Sun and The Daily Express. That has shifted.
“Essentially, we noticed there’d been a dramatic reduction in anti-migrant front pages across The Mail, The Sun and The Express. At the same time, people were coming to us and raising concerns about things in many other publications. So there is definitely less of a gulf between those titles and the rest of the UK media… it wouldn’t really make sense to just focus on those three publications, because you’re not going to solve the problem if that’s only what you focus on.”
Instead, he says Stop Funding Hate is focused more on issues facing individual groups rather than on news brands. He cites the negative coverage of travelers on Channel 4 as an example of such a flashpoint and notes that anti-trans coverage in newspapers has been a particular source of contention this year.