Alternative media may include cinema ,tv movies, advertising campaigns or radio broadcasting channels but when the matter is to encounter with surviving problems , alternative press has as much trouble as others above.Magazine or newspaper , from finding publisher to finding trustable distribution channels , from gaining volunteer talented guys to work with and make them loyal and faithful, from facing with financial-economical problems since denying advertising support as looking for gifts, donations,grants to be able to handle political issues by staying out of mainstream media circle.Being socialist, being communist or being left focused are some frequent features of alternative press too because it is also kinda against to narcotizing politics of main stream media-press by giving particular things in always in particular shape by ignoring some facts.Anti racism, feminism, gay supoorts, sexual tendencies, minority rights, immigrant problems, lower class situations, minority’s different values, habits, world views or political perspectives are included and considered as vital in alternative press.Alternative press has to find some different distribution channels to give a voice or publisher.Today’s capitalism worl, under the hegemony of mainstream media , it is so hard to find alternative publisher-distribution channels naturally.Most of alternative press magazines-newspaper had pretty short life because without regular serious income and just with some donations, funds,grants or reader’s help you can not survive long.Alternative press is not seeking for commercial-advertising convey to audience-readers but seeking for conveying ideas, ideologies, alternative world views so it became hard to keep living.Alternative press is working also as community based thing which care too much reader’s opinions, ideas, their letters which are being posted to newspaper or magazine.İt is based on also interactive, horizontal structure that readers can be writers and consumers also become producers when they give ideas, offers to magazine for example.In England under the roof of socialist movement idea the Red Pepper magazine was a good example to show how hard to survive as being alternative press.Red Pepper had faced many financial,economical political problems during its life but ın everytime when it falls down , it succeded to come back as being much more powerful, experienced because the workers did market reasearch, surveys, reader researches, following expectations and by settle the balance between taking advertising-commercial stuff and spreading alternative informations,ideologies or putting good balance among political tendencies ,election terms, and showing themselves much more bigger than really they are to create big voice by the name of labor part, socialist movement , standing against exploiting mainstream press -capitalist ideology.Today in 2000’s we have still many alternative press-magazines-newspapers,texts and so on but still without ignoring advertising, commercial stuff and without taking particular political support-govermental support or regular serious financial income it is so hard to survive or reach bigger environment.One side we may see proffesional workers but on the other hand they have maybe non proffesional but full of passion, loyalty, volunteer, dedicated guys in alternative press so this fact can create a bit better balance among them.Alternative press is carrying the motto on even its name so it could always find alternative ways to make their voice heard and reach particular community in creative ways.
When examining Alternative Media it is imperative to discuss the rise of “Infoshops”. This is a phenomenon with a central function of disseminating information, Infoshops started to come out in the 1990’s (although the British model of Infoshops started in the 80s) and are in relation with the “free Information Network” (FINs) and grew out the of the Free Festival Movement, infoshops were not just places of debate through concerts, distributing leaflets or gathering at cafés but also a source of Alternative Media.
The aim of Infoshops when they first started is to counter and create resistance towards capitalism among many other concerns. They entice intellectual argument and people to go out to protest. Some social scientists argued that they function as a repository and distributor of alternative media.
According to Chris Atton they can offer reading rooms of alternative publications (this can take place online now), perhaps even a small library. It can act as a distribution point for free publications and as a retail outlet for priced publications. It often provides cheap do-it-yourself design and reprographic services to alternative publishers.
Today there are many infoshop sites online that act as news platforms; their uniqueness comes from the fact that they don’t follow mainstream rules and conventions. And through my own research I found they speak more about the concerns of the public rather than working according to a certain agenda or try shifting the public’s attention to a specific news which is what the mainstream media does and been doing for so long. By examining some of the infoshop sites such as infoshop.org a variety of articles are published, it was interesting to find the different standpoints and how the point of view about an issue is being presented, you can’t help but to notice after being exposed for so many long time to traditional mainstream media that you are departing to a new way of reading the news, the writing style which is sometimes un-censored, the word “Anarchist” is being used so many times, in overall it allows the reader to formulate a different perspective or see an issue from a different angle, also, since people from all around the world have the right to contribute, infoshops position themselves to be a Huge source of opinions, what I mean is that there is not a lack of topics nor you can find a main focus that the site is trying to take your attention to.
I believe infoshops has a great potential to alter people’s views thus their lives especially that they have an important advantage of being first established in physical space and then moved to the virtual, they have the ability to influence decision makers, this comes from their ability to gather people and perhaps they could become a changing force. But currently an important matter worth considering is that as much as it’s crucial to have people share their views online and have other people read it and absorb their meanings there should be an equal action in real life so as not to remain only in cyber space.
Finally, back to my first question “Are infoshops the voice of Alternative Media?” the answer I think to be Yes they have a great potential of becoming so. But still only time can tell especially with the speed of how technology is evolving and the emergence of new platforms and communication concepts it would be wise not to factualize this assumption.
“Nothing important dies tonight, just a few ugly guys on a crappy ship. The only sadness tonight is that, in future years, there’ll be so many fantastic songs that it will not be our privilege to play. But, believe you me, they will still be written, they will still be sung and they will be the wonder of the world.”
I remember this quote from head DJ in the movie The boat that rocked because it is the 1960´s pirate radio stations in the UK, on one of which (Radio Caroline) is partly based this movie, which I recall when I elaborate on the term alternative radio. I think in order to understand what this term means nowadays, we have to look back on some of the turning points in the radio broadcasting like the rise and shine of the early pirate radio stations in Britain. If we omit that these radios were broadcasting illegally, which may not be anymore the case of todays alternative radio stations, we can I think trace some similarities. I think in what were these pirate radios broadcasting offshore true pioneers was the labelling of being the “other” voice to the mainstream. These broadcasting ships were the base of a new generation of youth listeners of The Beatles and all those who loved rock´n´roll and pop music nowhere in the main radio provider BBC in the sixties to be found in such an extend and way of delivering the music. Pirate radio broadcasters in the UK were influential in building up a community of listeners who were different than the one of the BBC. They differed not only in whom they attracted, but why they actually did. Pirate radios with its most famous example Radio Caroline were “radical”. They were experimenting with the ways on how to broadcast the content to the listeners and gave in their playlist the space to also back then unknown artists. Pirate radio stood for a new, anti-hegemonic and counter-cultural aspect and I think this is what mainly all the alternative radio stations that followed after have still in common, to stand against the big corporative radio channels.
Despite the fact that some of the pirate radio stations started later to use commercials in order to finance it, so we can say they were not alternative in the sense of being independent of a larger structure, commercial body, but were alternative in its form of bringing a social change, culturally influencing a generation who wanted an alternative source of music and refused the mainstream. The growing popularity of these “floating radio stations” to attract a young audience with a non-traditional music genres its not sure but may have been also an inspiration and reason of BBC to enhance its programming opening up with its first pop music channel Radio 1.