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alternative media

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alternative media

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  1. alternative media alternative to what?

  2. beyond mass communication • emancipatory potential of ‘new media’ • democratization of communication • alternative forms of communication

  3. reflections I • democratic potential of radio broadcasting; two-way practice of communication ‘Radio should be converted from a distribution system to a communication system … if it were capable not only of transmitting but of receiving, of making the listener not only hear but also speak, not of isolating him but of connecting him. This means that radio would have to give up being a purveyor and organise the listener as purveyor’ (Brecht 1983: 169)

  4. reflections II … mechanical reproduction of art (not dependent on ritual) • ‘the author as producer’; it is not the content of the culture that makes it radical, instead it is the conditions of its production (Benjamin, 1968) instead of asking what politics a piece if art is presenting, we should be asking about the politics of how it is produced … eroding the line between artist and spectator, producer and consumer, challenging the hierarchical division of labor and encouraging everyone to create

  5. reflections III • socialist possibilities of new electronic media ‘For the first time in history, the media are making possible mass participation in a social and socialized productive process, the practical means of which are in the hands of the masses’ (Enzensberger 1974, 97) … distinction between repressive use of media (centrally controlled; one-way flow of messages; produced by specialists; promoting passive consumption) and emancipatory use of media (decentralised, linking many to many; fostering interactivity; collectively produced and actively used)

  6. reflections IV • democratic participant paradigm (McQuail, 1987) … points out the failure of the mass media to meet the needs that arise from the daily experience of citizens, to offer space to individual and minority expressions … media are ideally constituted in small-scale terms, favoring horizontal patterns of interaction, and facilitating the expression of citizens’ needs

  7. reflections V • ‘New World Information and Communication Order’; … in terms of the developmental debate, UNESCO’s forums in the 1970s addressed the issue of the constitution of alternatives to mass communication in order to balance the flow of information and communication the discussion on processes of democratization of communication and redistribution of communication power puts emphasis on the need for people and communities who had traditionally been excluded from the production and distribution of media messages to gain access in electronic media (access, participation, self-management)

  8. reflections VI • participatory communication model; ‘[it] stresses the importance of the cultural identity of local communities and of democratisation and participation at all levels – international, national, local, and individual. It points to a strategy that is not merely inclusive of but largely emanates from the traditional receivers’ (Servaes 1999, 88) … grounds developmental process at a local/community level (in its own culture, intellect, and environment) through the active participation of ‘ordinary’ people (the key agents); questioning the universal model of development

  9. reflections VII • community communication model; ‘[C]ommunicators in community communication address their audience on the assumption of a shared relevance that community issues have for both senders and receivers because they all participate in the same community. This community, further, serves as a frame of reference for a shared interpretation of the relevance of the topics communicated within the community’ (Hollander and Stappers 1992: 19-20). … the category of ‘community’ and its different applications have provided the ground for a further evaluation of public communication, in terms of a geographical context, of a local/social system, and along the lines of a sense of identity

  10. reflections VIII • electronic democracy; creation of new opportunities for citizen participation in the local and national public spheres … new forms of communication create public spaces, arenas for the free engagement of citizens in deliberation and public debate … in addition, these new forms of communication can facilitate communication which is more horizontal than vertical

  11. reflections IX • democratic communication paradigm; Williams addresses the organization of mass media and its structural implications – professionalization (skills), capitalization, and institutionalization(controls) – as the main barriers preventing wider social participation in their creation, production and dissemination ‘[c]ommunication begins in the struggle to learn and describe’; the other side of the same picture is that the communication process entails a learning/educational value’ (Williams, 1976: 11) … experience, reflection, empowerment

  12. means of communication • the human body - voice, jokes, dance, song, hair style tattoos - demonstrations, even self-immolation (Mohamed Buazizi, Tunisia, January 2011) • dress, tee shirts, ‘buttons’/’pins’ • punk, rap and hip hop music; poetry • street theatre • public art, decorated buses/trains, graffiti • posters, leaflets, bumper stickers….

  13. [continued] • press (newspapers, zines, books) • cinema (political documentary) • radio (local, pirate stations) • TV (amateur, access TV) • Internet/smartphones (websites, blogs, social media) • and even tents (international symbol of challenging status quo)! “Yes we camp!” – L’Aquila [Italy]; Syntagma Square [Greece]; los indignados[Spain]; Housing Protest [Israel]; Occupy Wall Street [USA]; Gezi Park [Turkey] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZQ2CFl1nVk

  14. a colorful tapestry • radical media • independent media • counter-information media • grassroots media • social movement media • activist media • community media • participatory media • civic media • tactical media • critical media • rhizomatic media • citizen’s media • alternative media …

  15. how do we understand them? which lens/lenses – theories - work best to see them with? … in any case all these media/communication practices touch upon, in one way or another, the notion of power

  16. - radical media … the polemical aspect: express an alternative vision to hegemonic policies, priorities and perspectives framework: the notion of counter-hegemony‘as a way to categorize attempts to challenge dominant ideological frameworks and to supplant them with a radical alternative vision’ (Downing, 2001: 15) … radical media offer a space for alternative discourses in public debate as well as a locus of oppositional power to the agency of domination

  17. [continued] • early work (1984); critically assessing both capitalist and socialist media – examples of radical media are drawn here in terms of oppositional politics • later work (2001); focus on social movements and their media practices - ‘social movements … are the life blood of these media, and they are the movements’ oxygen’ (ibid, 390) … more ‘dialectic’ scheme encompassing a wider range of media practices in place of alternative, or counter, public spheres; still, in terms of the constitution of oppositional political culture

  18. - participatory media defence of cultute; revaluation of cultural identity (a potential locus of resistance to cultural imperialism) facilitate the participation of the community in the organization of communication projects; promotes a participatory type of communication which ‘is not limited to sending messages to the public; it is an agent for social change, culture development and democratisation’ (Servaes, 1999: 260)

  19. [continued] self-evaluative nature of participatory projects; people become conscious of their own situation and its possibilities for change participatory media have been evaluated as agents of developmental power, in terms of social and cultural empowerment. Yet, these aspects have been mostly addressed along the lines of the binary domination-subordination scheme; ‘[the] culture process may be a “long revolution” – the slow process of building counter-hegemony to the dominant political culture’ (Servaes, 1999: 258)

  20. - community media distinguish themselves from the state and commercial ones; their implementation promoted in practice the realization of the very principles of diversity and pluralism, generating a call for more access and more participation advance the principle of public communication within the small-scale form of a neighborhood, a village, a town, as well as within the realm of a community of interest

  21. [continued] wide conception of the term ‘community’, including local/regional, minority/ethnic, and more specific, grounded on diverse interests, manifestations of it … ‘can [not] create communities where none exist’; ‘community media reflect common interests’ (Lewis and Booth, 1989: 187, 188) … ‘misty-rosy’ undertones of the word ‘community’

  22. - alternative media been evaluated in terms of incorporating decentralized, non-mainstream, non-commercial practices in their operation as well as in terms of the mutual relationships with alternative cultures/subcultures – ‘providing empowering narratives of resistance for counter-publics’ (Atton, 2002) or, in a broader context, that of contesting the dominant conditions of media power, it’s symbolic boundaries and hierarchies

  23. - alternative media widening of the spectrum of alternative media in terms of encompassing instances of empowerment in reflexive as well as in symbolic terms still, alternative media is a slippery term fraught with multiple meanings; everything is alternative to something else – today’s alternative may be co-opted and re-appropriated to become tomorrow’s mainstream

  24. - citizens’ media an inclusive approach, which takes into account instances of both the production and reception process,in terms of the ‘lived experience’ of those involved in these practices (Rodriguez 2001) the way their agents, citizens’ groups and grassroots organizations, engage in/with them; they do it in a way that registers their ‘difference’

  25. [continued] celebrates the heterogeneity of the social actors and the diversity of forms that citizens’ media take, and highlights the ‘subtle processes of fracture’ that they may activate in the ‘social, cultural and power spheres of everyday life’ significant sites for the enactment of citizenship; where the social subjects negotiate and renegotiate social definitions, their identities, cultures and lifestyles, on the personal as well as on the collective level

  26. overall these media are central to experience because they are media that inform, reflect, express experience, our experience, on a daily basis – if not more than the mass media, then at least in a significant different manner, in that for those involved in their practice, the very process of such projects becomes part of daily life, of quotidian experience’

  27. summarizing approaches of alternative media by Baily, Cammaerts and Carpentier (2008) • approach one: serving a community the participation of members of a community in content production and media organization is central here

  28. [continued] • approach two: alternative media as alternative to mainstream media provision of content by alternative media as alternative to mainstream media (large-scale, state-owned or commercial, hierarchical, dominant discourses vs. small-scale, independent, non-hierarchical, non-dominant discourses)

  29. [continued] • approach three: linking alternative media to civil society counter-hegemonic media that are part of civil society and form a third voice between state media and commercial media

  30. [continued] • approach four: alternative media as rhizome (a horizontal, usually underground stem that often sends out roots and shoots from its nodes) relational media because they link different protest groups and movements, connect the local and the global, and establish different types of relationships with the market and/or the state

  31. Atton, C. (2002) Alternative Media. London: Sage. • Bailey, O. G., Cammaerts, B. and Carpentier, N. (2008) Understanding Alternative Media.Berkshire: Open University Press • Benjamin, W. (1968) Illuminations, New York: Schocken. • Brecht, B. (1930/1983) ‘Radio as a Means of Communication’ in A. Mattelart, and S. Siegelaub (eds.)Communication and Class Struggle 2: Liberation, Socialism, New York: International General. • Couldry, N. (2001) “Mediation and Alternative Media or, Reimagining the Centre of Media and Communication”. Paper presented to ICA preconference ‘Our Media, Not Theirs, May 24 2001, The American University, Washington DC. • Downing, J. (1984) Radical Media: The Political Experience of Alternative Communication. Boston: South End Press. • Downing, J. (2001) Radical Media: Rebellious Communication and Social Movements. CA: Sage • Fuchs, C. (2010) “Alternative media as critical media”, in European Journal of Social Theory 13 (2): 173-192. • Rodriguez, C. (2001) Fissures in the Mediascape: An International Study of Citizens’ Media, Cresskil, New Jersey: Hampton Press. • Servaes, J. (1999) Communication for Development: One World, Multiple Cultures. Cresskill, N.J.: Hampton Press. • Vatikiotis, P. (2005) “Communication Theory & Alternative Media”, in WPCC, vol. 2, issue: 1.

  32. workshop reading text: “Alternative Media as Critical Media” (by Christian Fuchs, 2010) … beyond arbitrary accounts; an underlying that is grounded in and justified by social theory …

  33. coming next week Underground press Compulsory readings: • Comedia (1984) “The Alternative Press: The Development of Underdevelopment”, in Media Culture & Society, vol. 6, pp. 95-102. • - Khiabany, G. (2000) “Red Pepper: a New Model for the Alternative Press?”, in Media, Culture & Society, vol. 22, no. 4, pp. 447-463. Recommended readings: • Atton, C. (1999) “A reassessment of the Alternative Press”, in Media, Culture & Society, 21.1: 51-76. • Downing, J. (2000) Radical Media: Rebellious Communication and Social Movements. CA: Sage (Samizdat in the former Soviet Union) • - Lewes, J. (2000) The Underground Press in America (1964-1968): Outlining an Alternative, the Envisioning of an Underground, in Journal of Communication Inquiry, 24:4, pp. 379-400

  34. thank you for your attention