The value of alternative media
University students are encouraged by academia to analyze, question and challenge prevailing perceptions of reality. Particularly concerning, however, are those perceptions of reality that are formed by the mass media.
In particular, foreign affairs and international news are topics that tend to be victims of mass media spin. In turn, spectators are left moving from one media outlet to the next in an attempt to gauge the validity of every political action, social movement and crime against humanity that is portrayed to the public.
Whether a political science, global studies, business or sociology major, the value of a wide spectrum of knowledge both biased and objective is crucial to your intellectual understanding of the world outside of campus.
By definition, alternative media are forms of traditional media outlets that offer an alternative outlook to the business or government-owned mass media. Alternative media is also referred to as independent media, because it is viewed as free from constraints that govern most corporately owned media.
Supporters of alternative media argue that the editorial stances of most major media networks often reflect the interests of corporations and advertisers. This relationship of ownership leads critics to refer to such media as corporate media, owned and operated by those with the biggest resources.
Major national networks and a number of smaller cable channels are essentially owned, financed and manipulated by an interconnected network of large corporate conglomerates and international banking interests. In turn, the pressure to fulfill corporate agendas has the tendency to trump objectivity in news reporting.
The problematic issue remains that the biases articulated by these networks make it hard to distinguish propaganda from fact.
In contrast to corporate media, the viewpoints and biases of alternative media sources are often clearly stated. In fact, sometimes a media source’s overriding position is even included within a mission statement.
An independent voice
According to Peter Eglin, an advocate of independent media, these sources act as a “corrective measure to the emphases and bias of the corporate media’s viewpoints.”
Independent media sources are more likely to tell the truth, because they are free to tell it. Eglin identified that the main value of independent media is in its actual representation, stating “independent media include a wide range of views, including the ones that people actually hold.”
Unfortunately, according to Eglin, “The structure of modern industrial society is such that you have to be an active citizen to find out the truth from these sources because corporate sources dominate all the airwaves and print space.”
Independent media’s ability to expose alternative ways of thinking will ensure its potential as a new media source.
On a national and international scale, Eglin says, “If you want to find out what the experiences are of the victims of Western imperialism, you won’t find it in the corporate media, you must go elsewhere. If you want to find out what the world looks like from the point of view of those not in power, you must go elsewhere.”
An option for students
As alternative media is easily accessible to an online generation, it is growing in popularity as an up-and-coming source of new media.
Rebecca Sargent, co-editor and founder of A Peace of Conflict, is a former Wilfrid Laurier University student who believes that alternative media sources are extremely valuable to students because they provide “insight to significant actions in the world that are entirely ignored [by mainstream media].” Sargent furthers that these sources focus on “less popular stories of conflict and war” that students need to know about.
A Peace of Conflict was created for students to “speak our own piece on global issues as we see them, in an informal environment.” The site is designed to give students an opportunity to publish their own work of their views on the world.
Rabble.ca is a registered not-for-profit organization that supports independent journalism. The site also produces original news stories, in-depth features, provocative interviews, commentaries and more.
In addition, the site features a growing collection of Canadian podcasts, which offer an alternative take on politics, entertainment, society, stories, community and life in general.
Rabble also has an online book lounge with reviews, events, clubs and a “best-in-the-left” online bookstore.
TheCanadianCharger.com is a publication of Canada’s Voice Corporation (CVC). The site is an independent not-for-profit publisher of “high-value alternative multi-media interactive online magazines.”
This publication is committed to presenting a diversity of views and counterviews on issues of importance to Canadians, with contributors from all backgrounds including journalists, academics, outstanding professionals, award-winning experts, social and political activists, literary essayists, novelists, poets and artists.
ZCommunications is the overarching institution composed of Z operations and projects. It encompasses all content types from videos to debate forums. ZCom offers a space dedicated to resisting injustice, eliminating repression, and creating liberty by addressing a variety of issues: international relations, ecology, economics, gender, race, culture and politics.
Noam Chomsky, is a contributor of ZCom, speaking widely on a range of social and political issues, both on a national and international scale.