Alternative Journalism, Alternative Ethics?

Authored by: Tony Harcup

The Routledge Companion to Local Media and Journalism

Print publication date:  April  2020
Online publication date:  April  2020

Print ISBN: 9780815375364
eBook ISBN: 9781351239943
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter will introduce the related concepts of ‘alternative media’ and ‘alternative journalism’ as they apply in a range of local contexts, and discuss ways in which examples of local alternative journalism might be seen to be based upon ethical approaches that differ from those dominating mainstream media. Without treating either mainstream or alternative journalism as uniform entities, this chapter will explore some of the ethical implications of practising local journalism that blur boundaries between facts and commentary, reporters and activists, journalists and sources, producers and audiences. Ethics will be discussed as something that goes beyond codes and editorial guidelines to incorporate wider issues such as representation and citizenship. Such issues have long been central to the motivations of those who have created media projects individually or collectively from within what might be thought of as a local alternative public sphere. Such alternative projects can be seen to be embracing an ethical ethos as integral to their existence rather than sets of rules or restrictions imposed from without. Taking care to adopt a critical rather than ‘rose-tinted’ perspective on alternative journalism, this chapter will nonetheless conclude that there are some reasons for optimism despite widespread gloom over the twenty-first-century local media landscape.

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