The Role and Importance of Alternative Media

Since the dawn of the Internet, alternative media has taken various shapes and forms. Academic definitions state that alternative media differs from established or dominant types of media in terms of its production, distribution and content. In the South African context, alternative media entails that these sources of news do not follow the flow of mainstream media. Alternative media in South Africa has grown to launch different narratives in a time where many feel that their voices are not heard through the clutter of political correctness, transformative rhetoric and the general disregard for objectivity.

The boundaries between conventional and alternative media have become blurred in recent years, creating favourable circumstances for new publications. Newspapers have ventured into digital video production and radio stations have their own online news content to read. As mainstream media try to monopolise the newly-created possibilities in media, cracks were left which alternative media now fills (and even expands). This is simply how the market works. As soon as a demand for something arises, it will often be met with somebody or something which will meet that demand.

News has become interactive and it is made in real time. It is not surprising, then, that news reporting seems to be a thing of the past as it is being replaced by news engagement. Alternative media offers more for readers to engage and interact with. The reason alternative media is so popular, is due to the fact that it goes past the ‘what, when, and where’ of news reporting and focuses on the ‘why, who, and how’. This change of focus is what many readers find attractive. Social media has become the playground of alternative media. The nature of alternative media leads to more in-depth engagement on topics – and it is this engagement on a personal level that readers want. One does not need to look any further than a comparison between the engagement on the comment section of traditional media sources and alternative media sources. The discussion in that of the latter is alive and freedom of speech is kicking.

SEE ALSO: Editorial: Why we need a Rational Standard by The Editor

Alternative media already plays a crucial role in our South African society – and, indeed, the world. The constitutional cliché that the media plays a vital role in a democracy was based on the assumption that the media should be a forum for diverse opinions and vibrant discussion, as it is the marketplace of ideas. With mainstream media following many created narratives as though this were Hamelin, alternative media is starting to fill this niche. Mainstream media in South Africa as a watchdog of the government still often plays its role ­– but the areas in which mainstream media is lacking, are the places alternative media achieves so much. The role of the media (and, in particular, alternative media) is not just to keep the government and its officials in check, but to also keep political narratives true to reality.

Alternative media challenges the status quo from all sides of the political divide. It keeps two fingers on the pulse of our country and many alternative media sources give voice to even the faintest heartbeat. And it is within these minute heartbeats that we keep freedom of expression alive.

Daniël Eloff

Daniël is a Senior Staff Writer at the Rational Standard. He is a co-founder of AGENDA a South African non-profit aimed at enabling and empowering young South Africans with debating and public speaking skills and currently works at Hurter Spies Inc, which specialises in public interest and civil rights litigation, while completing his LLM degree in constitutional- and cyber law. He is also a co-host of the Afrikaans podcast Podlitiek.

9 thoughts on “The Role and Importance of Alternative Media

  • vickymoriarty1@gmail.com'
    1 December 2016 at 14:32 PM
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    The Alt Right basically created the Alt Media. However, Libertardians and Revisionists did play a crucial role in the pre Internet days.

    Reply
    • 1 December 2016 at 17:02 PM
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      I think the Alt Right popularized alt media but didn’t necessarily create it. And it’s interesting to note that there have been various different ideological news sites that have popped up the last couple of years. Each caters to their niche market.

      Reply
      • vickymoriarty1@gmail.com'
        1 December 2016 at 17:14 PM
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        I enjoy your site Rational Standard, but your comments policy is too strict for my taste, I will thus only visit once or twice a week. I am a White Nationalist btw and will comment from that perspective.

        Reply
        • rorys@homemail.co.za'
          1 December 2016 at 20:00 PM
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          I’m a person first and foremost and comment from that perspective.

          Reply
          • vickymoriarty1@gmail.com'
            1 December 2016 at 21:07 PM
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            Do you believe in the Esoteric World or are you a radical rationalist? I am an anti-humanist so I could never describe myself as a “person”.

          • vickymoriarty1@gmail.com'
            2 December 2016 at 13:51 PM
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            I am not allowed to use my Hemmingway type slursies.

  • cgb1842@yahoo.com'
    2 December 2016 at 13:12 PM
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    The so called conventional media is finished. When 95% of mainstream media including television supported HRC there is no way that she should not be the President elect. It must be quite worrying for media chiefs and investors.

    Reply

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