What is alternative journalism?

July 13, 2009

Atton, Chris & James F Hamilton – Alternative Journalism, Sage, London, 2008, (pp. 192) ISBN 978-1-4129-4703-9

Reviewed by Martin Hirst, oublished in Global Media Journal, July 2009

I opened this book and it seemed full of promise. It claims to be the first “academic book-length study” of alternative journalism. It also claims to critique the very epistemology of mainstream news and it seeks to address the “imbalance of media power” that marginalizes and demonizes radical or non-mainstream social groups.

“This is my kind of book,” I thought.

The central theme is that “alternative journalism” is generally a response to capitalism and imperialism “as the global dynamic of domination and consolidation”. And, already, right here in the introduction, the authors seek to identify the “powerful dialectic” that exists between “the use of a neoliberal new technology that is largely in the control of Western economic forces, and its deployment as a radically reforming (if not revolutionary) tool for globalized, social-movement-based activism.” (p. 4) This is a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of the “alternative” journalists – to be at the vanguard of resistance to imperialism and global capital. By page five I was wondering if the book could in fact live up to its early promises. Read the rest of this entry »