Coronavirus: a Letter to Our Readers

by the Novara Media Team

20 March 2020

Dear Readers,

The UK, and the world, is facing its most significant public health emergency in a century. The spread of the coronavirus, and the patchy measures the government has taken in response, suggest a significant crisis – economic and social – is on the way. Novara Media will continue publishing throughout this crisis.

We have taken measures to ensure the safety of our team, and to enable us to keep producing. Despite conflicting and diffident advice from government, we have taken notice of research which says the major place of transmission for younger people is in the workplace. We have used the past week to distribute remote broadcasting equipment to our team, and will now be shuttering our studio – but we won’t be curtailing our journalism.

In fact, we’ll be stepping it up. As well as our usual programme of articles, broadcasts and podcasts, we are relaunching The Burner – our short daily bulletin, last run during the election – to track the crisis and the emerging political response.

In a time of national emergency, there are always strong calls to unite behind the government and suspend all criticism. We don’t buy that. The government response, so far, has been inadequate: in its reluctance to enforce social distancing measures, in its failure to intervene in ventilator production, and in its hesitancy to intervene financially so all workers can take safety advice seriously – without facing debt, fear of hunger or losing their housing once the crisis ends. The government also proposes to introduce sweeping emergency powers lasting two years. There couldn’t be a more vital time for serious, informed scrutiny.

In times of crisis, received wisdom changes rapidly. Crises lay bare fault lines in our society, and make brutally clear for whom the world works. Already economic orthodoxies – things we’ve been told could never change – are shifting right in front of our eyes. The right find themselves talking about stimulus and basic income, intervention and social planning. The financial system is convulsing. The world which emerges on the other side of this crisis will look different, as opinions shift on the usefulness of the market and what the state can do. As this crisis develops, we believe the left will also need to think seriously about how to shape what comes next: so we’ll be talking to thinkers on climate change, democracy and capitalism on how to build a better world.

We know many of our readers, listeners and viewers are worried, both about the government response and the impact COVID-19 may have on them or their loved ones. Those in precarious work or housing, with health needs or in older age – or with family or friends in these situations – are especially worried. These issues affect us as well. We will remain here for our audience throughout: we will ask the questions which desperately need answering, relay reliable information, and point you to the resources you need – from advice on housing, to mutual aid campaigns, and how people across the world are living through their lockdowns. Stick with us: we’ll get through it together.

In solidarity,

The Novara Media Team

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