The “Overton Window” is a term used to describe the range of policy ideas which are generally accepted as reasonable. Ideas within that frame are generally seen as open to legitimate debate, but people who make proposals outside it will be dismissed as radical and ignored by most commentators and the mainstream media.
The position of the window shifts from time to time, as public attitudes change, and is different in different countries. Historically, in the UK, it swung dramatically to the left in 1945, to be followed by an equally strong swing to the right under Margaret Thatcher. It moved modestly left during the Blair years, but when Jeremy Corbyn proposed policies which would have been well within the window in the 1950s (and still are in many European countries) they were dismissed as impossibly radical.
Thus the task of politicians is not only to promote specific policies, but also to move the window to bring more radical policies into the range of acceptable debate.
The national network of Bylines websites was founded to try to move the Overton Window in a progressive direction. Our mission is not to promote a particular party or policy, but to help create an environment where progressive ideas in politics, the environment, social policy and other issues are seen as “common sense”, rather than impossible dreams.
We do this on a largely voluntary basis. Our writers, researchers, and editors are all unpaid, although behind all the local Bylines is the Bylines Network – a small paid team, only one of whom is full-time – to support, coordinate and provide technical assistance for the growing network.
East Anglia Bylines was the eighth of the regional Bylines sites, launched in July 2021. In our first year we published over 600 articles, and our site has been visited over half a million times. Around half our coverage is political (national and local), but we have also covered business, the environment, the NHS, farming, culture, and occasionally international issues. Most of our stories have an East Anglian dimension.
Extending our reach
Half a million views in a year is not trivial, but we are keen to extend our reach. We don’t want to be simply a sounding board for aggrieved “lefties”. Especially at the present time, we want to reach a much wider range of ordinary people interested in how political and social issues are affecting our region, the communities and people within it.
We already make much use of Twitter and Facebook, and we very much welcome readers sharing our stories on their own networks.
Beyond this “organic” growth, one way of extending our reach is by advertising our site and our stories more widely on social media. Facebook advertising can enable us to reach larger, and more clearly targeted, groups of potential readers. But to do this, we need money, and for that reason we will soon be allowing a very modest amount of advertising on our site. We will be careful about what kind of advertising we accept and will try to ensure that it is not too intrusive.
Can you help?
There are three ways of supporting the work of the Bylines family:
- Locally, we are keen at East Anglia Bylines to build a body of paying subscribers who make a small, regular contribution to provide a basic level of support for our work. In return, subscribers will receive the monthly Bylines Gazette via email, which represents the best of the Bylines network, and have the satisfaction of helping support our local citizen journalism in a practical way. We are suggesting a minimum contribution of £2 a month (though larger sums would be very welcome). We would also very much welcome one-off donations. If you are willing to do either of these, please visit our East Anglia Bylines donation page.
- Nationally, the Bylines Network team provides the underlying technology and coordination of the country-wide Bylines websites. They are running a campaign to encourage people to subscribe to support their work in supporting us. Further details are at the Bylines Network website.
- Our national sister publication Byline Times can be found here. The Bylines Network is a financially separate entity, so a subscription to them doesn’t come to us. There is more about the history and connections between the publications in director Mike Galsworthy’s piece, “We need your support to keep the Bylines Network flourishing!”
Together we can move the window and make progressive politics “common sense”.