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Alternative media are media (newspapers, radio, television, movies, Internet, etc.) which are alternatives to the business- or government-owned mass media. Proponents of alternative media argue that the mainstream media are biased. While sources of alternative media can also be biased (sometimes proudly so), proponents claim that the bias is significantly different than that of the mainstream media, hence these media provide an "alternative" viewpoint. As such, advocacy journalism tends to be a component of many alternative outlets.
Because the term "alternative" has connotations of self-marginalization, some media outlets now prefer the term "independent" over "alternative".
Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky proposed a concrete model for the filtering processes (biases) of mainstream media, especially in the United States, called the propaganda model. They tested this empirically and presented extensive quantified evidence supporting the model. Authors such as Louis Althusser have also written in detail about the problems of the mainstream press, and their writings have inspired the creation of many alternative press efforts. Socialist communication scholar Robert W. McChesney, inspired in part by the work of Chomsky and Herman, has linked the failures of the mainstream press primarily to corporate ownership, pro-corporate public policy, and the myth of "professional journalism." He has published extensively on the failures of the mainstream press, and advocates scholarship in the study of the political economy of the media, the growth of alternative media, and comprehensive media policy reforms. Ben Bagdikian has also written about the takeover of biased media, with particular attention to the giant conglomerates that own them. He argues that because five large conglomerates own the majority of American media, politics and general media influence in America are in jeopardy.
The alternative press consists of printed publications that provide a different or dissident viewpoint than that provided by major mainstream and corporate newspapers, magazines, and other print media.
Factsheet Five publisher Mike Gunderloy described the alternative press as "sort of the 'grown-up' underground press. Whole Earth, the Boston Phoenix, and Mother Jones are the sorts of things that fall in this classification." In contrast, Gunderloy described the underground press as "the real thing, before it gets slick, co-opted, and profitable. The underground press comes out in small quantities, is often illegible, treads on the thin ice of unmentionable subjects, and never carries ads for designer jeans."
An example of alternative media is tactical media, which uses 'hit-and-run' tactics to bring attention to an emerging problem. Often tactical media attempts to expose large corporations that control sources of mainstream media.
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