This guide is designed to provide an introduction to alternative media sources.
No one term adequately describes all of the various types of publications and sources of information that fall outside of the mainstream: independent, dissident, radical, underground, subversive, non-corporate, progressive, grassroots, activist, anarchist, small, alternative...
Similarly, no one definition adequately describes all of the publications or types of publications included when one refers to the alternative press. Often, the alternative press is defined by describing what it is not: it is not mainstream or corporate-owned, for example. This of course begs the questions: what is mainstream? and what constitutes a corporate-owned publication? Other criteria used to describe the alternative press include a publication's content, its means of production and ownership, whether or not a publication seeks social or political change, and whether or not the publication is intended to generate a profit.
Or perhaps the alternative media (to paraphrase Amy and David Goodman describing Democracy Now!) represent and give voice to the mainstream who are ignored by the mainstream media.
The excerpts below represent just a small sample of the various definitions and descriptions of the alternative press. Included as well are a couple of excerpts pertaining to the dissident and radical press which, depending on the definition used, may also be considered alternative.
Alternative, small, independent, radical, dissident... a few excerpts (see the bibliography below for complete citations):
Bibliography (sources for the excerpts above):
Atton, Chris. "A Reassessment of the Alternative Press." Media, Culture & Society 21 (1999): 51 - 76.
Dilevko, Juris and Kalina Grewal. "A New Approach to Collection Bias in Academic Libraries: The Extent of Corporate Control in Journal Holdings." Library & Information Science Research 19.4 (1997): 359 - 85.
Downing, John. Radical Media: Rebellious Communication and Social Movements. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications, c2001.
Hamilton, J. "Alternative Media: Conceptual Difficulties, Critical Possibilities." Journal of Communication Inquiry 24.4 (October 2000): 357 - 78.
Kranich, Nancy. "A Question of Balance: The Role of Libraries in Providing Alternatives to the Mainstream Media." Collection Building 19.3 (2000): 85 - 90.
Streitmatter, Rodger. Voices of Revolution: The Dissident Press in America. New York: Columbia UP, 2001.
Willet, Charles. "The State of Alternative Publishing in America: Issues and Implications for Libraries." Counterpoise 3.1 (January 1999): 14 - .
Want to read more? (updated October 2013)
Albert, Michael. "What Makes Alternative Media Alternative?" http://subsol.c3.hu/subsol_2/contributors3/alberttext.html (originally published in Z Magazine October 1997).
Atkinson, Joshua D. Alternative Media and Politics of Resistance: A Communication Perspective. P 96 .A44 A85 2010
Atton, Chris. Alternative Media. London: Sage, 2002. P 96 .A442 A88 2002
Borjesson, Kristina. Into The Buzzsaw: Leading Journalists Expose the Myth of a Free Press. Amherst, N.Y. : Prometheus Books, 2002. PN 4738 .I58 2002
Chomsky, Noam. "What Makes Mainstream Media Mainstream." http://www.chomsky.info/articles/199710--.htm (originally pubilshed in Z Magazine October 1997)
Downing, John, ed. Encyclopedia of Social Movement Media. Thousand Oaks, Calif. : SAGE Publications, Inc., 2011. P 96 .A44 E53 2011 REF
Forde, Susan. Challenging the News: The Journalism of Alternative and Community Media. Palgrave Macmillan, 2011. PN 4784 .C615 F67 2011
Jensen, Carl. Censored. Chapel Hill, NC: Shelburne Press, c1993- . Library has 2001, 2003-13. Most recent: PN 4888 .P6 C45 2013.
Kozolanka, Kirsten. Alternative Media in Canada. Vancouver : UBC Press, c2012. P 96 .A442 C3 2012
Lievrouw, Leah A. Alternative and Activist New Media. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2011. P 95.8 .L54 2011
McChesney, Robert W. The Problem of the Media: U.S. Communication Politics in the Twenty-first Century. New York: Monthly Review Press, c2004. P 95.82 .U6 M378 2004
---. Rich Media, Poor Democracy: Communication Politics in Dubious Times. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, c1999. P 95.82 .U6 M38 1999
McMillian, John Campbell. Smoking Typewriters: The Sixties Underground Press and the Rise of Alternative Media in America. New York : Oxford University Press, 2011. PN 4888 .U5 M35 2011
Nesbitt-Larking, Paul W. Politics, Society, and the Media: Canadian Perspectives. 2nd ed. Peterborough, Ont.: Broadview Press, 2007. P 95.82 .C3 N47 2007