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Other Voices, the Connexions newsletter -- Special issue on alternative media
November 28, 2016The November 27, 2016 edition of Other Voices, the Connexions newsletter, is devoted entirely to alternative media.
Its not exactly news that the mainstream media - corporate-owned and state-owned - are biased and anything but reliable. Their reporting may well contain accurate information, but even when (some of) their facts are correct, the overall framing and context are shaped by their ideological function of supporting the capitalist system of which they are an integral part. More than ever, the mainstream media are propaganda arms of a power structure fusing corporations and the neoliberal state..
Changes in the media landscape exacerbate the situation. Corporate consolidation means that most major media outlets are now owned by a small number of large corporations, following policies dictated by head office. The actual number of media are shrinking: for example, whereas a few decades ago most major cities had competing daily newspapers, now most cities have only one, and where they have two, both are often owned by the same company. Corporatization of the media has also meant significant cutbacks in staffing, resulting inevitably in reduced coverage, and poor reporting marked by reliance on fewer sources. Fact checkers, copy editors, and proofreaders have largely gone the way of the manual typewriter.
Its no wonder, then, that the mainstream media are widely distrusted, and even held in contempt, by many people. They are seen, rightly, as part of the neoliberal system people are increasingly rejecting.
On the other hand, the Internet has made it possible to launch a vast number of alternative media projects. These range from bloggers, tweeters, Facebook commentators, and other self-publishers active in the social media realm, to major information-rich websites and media projects with paid staff and professional standards.
However, most of these independent projects face the severe limitations imposed by not being well-funded corporate media projects. With the best intentions in the world, its impossible to keep providing high-quality stories about a wide range issues with volunteers, or a small number of paid staff. The constraints faced by the mainstream media understaffing, shrinking revenues impact the alternative media to an even greater extent.
And just what are alternative media? The rough-and-ready definition used in selecting media to feature in this issue of Other Voices is that they are independent and that they are broadly left in their political orientation, that is, that they offer a left alternative to the mainstream media.
Of course, all media, mainstream or alternative, right or left, must be read critically. Alternative media are quite capable of getting things wrong or publishing nonsense; indeed, they frequently do. They also often disagree with each other. This can be helpful. Hearing about different approaches, and thinking about the reasons behind them, helps us understand things better.
This is true of corporate and state-funded media as well. News media like Al Jazeera, RT, and teleSUR, certainly reflect the biases of their owners (Qatar, Russia, and several South American governments, respectively), but, because those biases are different from the mainstream American, British, and Canadian media, they can and do cover news that the western corporate media ignore or falsify, and they can be worth checking out as well.
This issue of Other Voices presents a selective list of some alternative media that we recommend. Connexions offers a much more extensive alternative media list on the Connexions website at www.connexions.org/CxLibrary/Docs/CxAlternativeMediaList.htm. Like anything else, our recommendations are a reflection of individual biases; still, we hope that it helps you to learn about websites and media that you'll find useful in finding out and understanding whats happening in the world.
There is no clear dividing line between 'media' websites and other websites. Many high-quality websites provide information and analysis. To find more of them, try browsing the Connexions Directory of Groups and Websites at www.connexions.org/Groups/CxG_AZ_Index.htm. The Connexions website itself features current content as well as a massive online library of articles and books going back decades. Connexions also gives you the ability to find related resources and background information on almost any topic, via the browseable Subject Index [http://www.connexions.org/CxLibrary/CxSubjectIndex.htm] and the Search tool [http://www.connexions.org/search/search.php].
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