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This week in Tortoise: Smear

This week in Tortoise: Smear

Summer may be nearly over, but here’s the good news: we’re back. Back with ThinkIns, investigations and campaigning journalism.   

Tortoise ThinkIns resume tomorrow, both back in our newsroom and, as ever, online. 

A month of investigations begins with today’s Slow Newscast – Smear: grooming gangs, conspiracy theories and the lawless digital politics of Oldham. In May this year, Sean Fielding lost his seat as a local councillor in the English town of Oldham. He was one of many Labour councillors deposed in that month’s local elections, but Fielding’s departure still stood out – and tells us a lot about politics and populism in the age of social media. Because Fielding’s main opponent was not some Conservative up-and-comer, nor Liberal Democrat stalwart. It was a man with a keyboard, a fistful of allegations, and an eager audience across various social platforms. That man is Raja Miah, who was awarded an MBE in 2004 for uniting Oldham’s communities, but who now foments divide online – including by accusing the area’s politicians of covering up serious crimes such as sexual grooming.

Throughout the summer, Tortoise hasn’t let up in its campaigning journalism on #TheArmsRace. Yesterday, Pascal Lamy, Gary Edson, Carolyn Reynolds and Mark McClellan set out their six priorities for world leaders ahead of a potential Covid-19 summit in September. You can read it here. And this week, we’ll be following up with more voices calling for the world to be vaccinated by the end of next year – and the launch of Tortoise’s vaccine tracker, so that we can keep tabs on which countries are giving and which are hoarding, which countries are receiving doses but not getting jabs into arms.  

Along with the daily Sensemaker, I hope there will be plenty to think about from Tortoise this week.

As ever, our journalism is informed by you. From today, we’ll be holding our daily Open News meeting on Twitter Spaces at 12.30 London time. We’d love to hear what you’ve heard and how you see things. 


James Harding
Editor & co-founder