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This Issue: Alternative Media

We depart from our usual format to present a special issue of Other Voices devoted entirely to alternative media.

It’s 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.

It’s 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, it’s 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.

Connexions offers a much more extensive alternative media list on the Connexions website here. In this newsletter, we present a selection of media from that larger list. Like anything else, this is 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 what’s 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. 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 and the Search tool.

Suggestions and feedback are welcome. Please use the contact form

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Daily News & Analysis


CounterPunch

Arguably the best English-language alternative media site. Features hard-hitting radical journalism, analysis, and opinion. Slogan: “Tells the Facts, Names the Names.” Worth visiting every weekday to get radical views of what’s happening in the world. Find them here

Inter Press Service (IPS)

A global news agency. “IPS raises the voices of the South and civil society.” Non-mainstream news from around the world. A wide range of stories, and more actual reporting and news coverage than most alternative media. Left-liberal politics, a bit light on analysis. Find them here

Antiwar.com

A site devoted to the cause of non-intervention. News and analysis about war and imperialism, and those who oppose them. Find them here

LabourStart

News and information about labour activities and struggles throughout the world, in more than 30 languages. “Where trade unionists start their day on the net.” Find them here

Democracy Now

Bills itself as providing “independent global news.” Available via satellite television, community and campus radio, podcast, and on the Internet. Lots of stories and interviews, but their claim to be “global” is a stretch: Friday’s front page featured 21 stories, of which 18 where about the U.S. Find them here

Global Voices

News and voices from the developing world. Brings together the work of bloggers, writers, podcasters, and videographers. “Shining light on places and people other media often ignore.” Find them here

News & Analysis Sites of Varying Frequencies


Climate & Capitalism

A online journal focusing on capitalism, climate change, and the ecosocialist alternative. Original articles and opinions pieces as well as reprints of articles first published elsewhere. “Ecosocialism or barbarism: there is no third way.” Find them here

Countercurrents

An alternative news site based in India. Worldwide scope, with particular emphasis on India. Find them here

Electronic Intifada

Palestinian portal for information about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. News, commentary, analysis, and reference materials about Palestine and Israel from a Palestinian perspective. Find them here

Global Research

An independent research and media site which publishes news articles, commentary, background research and analysis on a broad range of topics, focussing on social, economic, strategic, geopolitical and environmental issues. The quality of the reporting and analysis varies widely, from solid to crackpot. Find them here

The Intercept

The Intercept was initially launched to provide a platform to report on the documents released by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. The site’s primary focus is on government surveillance, spying, and police state tactics. Other issues covered include political corruption, racism, militarism, and the complicity of the mainstream media. Find them here

Latinamericapress

A site maintained by Comunicaciones Aliadas, a non-profit, non-governmental organization based in Lima, Peru, specializing in the production of information and analysis about events across Latin America and the Caribbean with a focus on rights. Find them here

Le Monde Diplomatique

English-language edition of the French monthly newspaper. Lengthy articles on world affairs. Find them here

Pambazuka News

In-depth articles and analysis. “Pan-African voices for freedom and justice.” Focus of coverage is especially on Africa, but also features African perspectives on world issues. Find them here

Canadian

Sites devoted primarily to news about Canada


Media Co-op

News from local media co-operatives dedicated to providing grassroots, democratic coverage. Find them here

National Observer

Focuses on news and in-depth reports on under-covered Canadian stories in the area of climate, energy, and related culture, business and politics. Find them here

Press Progress

Progressive news and analysis with a social-democratic orientation. Find them here

rabble.ca

Bills itself as “space for issues, a place to explore political passions and an opportunity to expand ideas.” Has a sprinkling of original news stories, but leans heavily to columns, blogs, interviews, and commentaries rather than original reporting. Left-leaning, but rarely leans farther left than the NDP. Find them here

The Tyee

A independent daily online magazine covering B.C. and beyond. Find them here

Magazines (Print + Online)


Against the Current

Bi-monthly magazine published by Solidarity, a U.S. socialist group. Oriented toward movements for social and economic justice; radical, socialist, feminist, anti-racist in orientation, promoting discussion among activists, organizers, and scholars on the Left. Find them here

Canadian Dimension

A quarterly magazine + website published by, for and about activists in the struggle for a better world, covering women's issues, aboriginal issues, the environment, labour, etc. The website features new stories on a regular basis. Find them here

The Ecologist

Environmental affairs magazine (online + print) covering a wide range of issues, ranging from the environmental costs of industrial agriculture, the health effects of toxins, the effects of economic globalization, and actions by environmentalists and grassroots communities. Find them here

Jacobin

An American left-wing magazine. Find them here

Monthly Review

Monthly print magazine and website, featuring longer analytical articles. Find them here

Research: Information to change the world


Connexions

Connexions features an online library of articles, books, films, news, and analysis going back more than 40 years. If you want to find out what is happening around the world and how people are resisting, and how it all relates to what happened in the past, Connexions offers a large and well-organized collection of materials (more than 200,000 pages on the site). The Subject Index and the Search tool enable you to find what you are looking for, plus what you didn’t even know you were looking for. Find us here

Media Criticism


Media Lens

We know that the mainstream media lie and distort on a daily basis. Knowing what exactly is wrong or distorted isn’t always so easy, though, if you don’t have the time and knowledge to do in-depth research. That’s where media criticism sites like Media Lens come in: they do the dirty work of documenting and rebutting the mainstream media. “MediaLens is a response based on our conviction that mainstream newspapers and broadcasters provide a profoundly distorted picture of our world. We are convinced that the increasingly centralised, corporate nature of the media means that it acts as a de facto propaganda system for corporate and other establishment interests.” Find Media Lens here

Using the Media to Get Publicity


A media relations guide for organizers and activists. Topics covered include: What and who are the media? Who decides whether a story gets covered? What makes a story newsworthy? The influence of advertising on media formats. Things which need not be said and things which cannot be said. Media strategy. Framing your issue and countering the frames of the dominant media. Deciding on your key message. Hooks to entice or persuade the media that your story is newsworthy. Find it
here

More?


For more alternative media and information sources, see Connexions’ Alternative Media List

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Bequests

Many of us have made working for social justice a lifetime commitment. If you are thinking about leaving a legacy for social justice that will live on, you might want to consider leaving a bequest to Connexions in your will. If you'd like to discuss this option, please contact us: Connexions Archive and Library, 812A Bloor Street West, Suite 201, Toronto, ON M6G 1L9, 416-964-5735 or see the Bequest page..


Trying to change the world? We can help.

Getting your story across can be an uphill battle when your group is challenging the status quo. Our partner organization SOURCES can help you get your message out. As a SOURCES member, you have an array of media relation tools at your disposal to promote your events, books, articles, videos, etc. as well as tools to get you in contact with those who can help you achieve your goals. The SOURCES news release service is especially valuable for groups wants to inform the media (and the public) about their issues. For more information about Sources please click this link.

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Copyright Connexions 2015. Contents are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License. This means you are welcome to share and republish the contents of this newsletter as long as you credit Connexions, and as long as you don’t charge for the content.

Other Voices: The Connexions Newsletter, is available online here

This issue was edited by Ulli Diemer.


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