I have read an article on alternative media entitled; The “Alternative Media” Challenges Officialdom’s Views, which you can find at: http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-alternative-media-challenges-officialdoms-views/5323701. What caught my eye is that the author claims that mainstream media is under threat and challenge, and that threat is “alternative media”. Very welcoming for a new born!
The reason they have been called alternative, is because they are seen as a second option or a substitute. And the definition of substitute lies in replacing, giving place or changing something by something else, usually if the former is not satisfying and convenient. People, readers and media consumers think that media is failing to tell people the truth and is more or less working to deceive them. Let’s take the social networks for instance; Twitter or Facebook display or create news stories and try as much as possible to share them with the populace, which can sometimes, or most of the time create a direct passive understanding of these news stories. That is to say, social networks are another type of alternative media that challenge the system.
Critiquing “mainstream” vs. “alternative” media is pursuing a dead-end paradigm, and analyzing media in general is a complex endeavor. Media has many forms and structural dynamics and quite often they overlap. There is print vs. radio vs. TV vs. internet, all of which use different mechanisms to tell a story. And within each there are also various dynamics. There is news vs. commentary vs. entertainment. While it is true that the general public has been somewhat dumbed down, they are also quite aware. Those who love the tabloids don’t pretend they are something they are not. People know the tabloids are sensationalized trash, they just happen to enjoy them.
A mainstream media institution (public or private) most often aims to maximize profit or sells an elite audience to advertisers for its main source of revenue. It is virtually always structured in accord with and to help reinforce society’s defining hierarchical social relationships, and is generally controlled by and controlling of other major social institutions, particularly corporations.
In contrast, an alternative media institution (to the extent possible given its circumstances) doesn’t try to maximize profits, doesn’t primarily sell audience to advertisers for revenues (and so seeks broad and non-elite audience), is structured to subvert society’s defining hierarchical social relationships, and is structurally profoundly different from and as independent of other major social institutions, particularly corporations, as it can be. An alternative media institution sees itself as part of a project to establish new ways of organizing media and social activity and it is committed to furthering these as a whole, and not just its own preservation.