A need for Alternative Newspapers


Due to media concentration in South Africa and the control of content, one can see that the newspaper no longer speaks to the needs of working class people. There is a need for ‘Alternative’ forms of media that is not monopolised by a few. There is a growing frustration around the way newspapers are controlled and produced which is more commercialised and pro-business. According to Mpofu, the term ‘Alternative’ implies that these papers did not provide standard or normal journalism. Historically there were alternatives forms of media which challenged the status-quo. It all started where working class people felt the need to create an affordable paper which speaks to ordinary citizens. Alternative media was created to address the issues faced by people who are oppressed and address the fact that mainstream media blatantly ignored this issues as if they were non-existent.

One may wonder how these newspapers survived in the absence of funding and considering that the newspapers were very affordable and not profit driven. Newspapers like Weekly Mail for example had no alignment to any specific political movements which enabled it to stay neutral. Newspapers today have become more pro-political parties and it is evident in the biasness in their reporting. Alternative Press achieved its objective by working with intellectuals who were interested in bringing fourth counter capitalist ideologies.

Since the collapse of NGOs and Social Movements, the alternative media houses and newspapers have also collapsed. These days the newspapers that people can afford have little positive impact in their lives, we see more of a pro-business trend in all the newspapers. The voice in which stories are also reported on is problematic, for example people could be having a peaceful protest and media changes the stories, there is more propaganda than truth in the newspapers. Few people are given chance to express themselves in newspapers, only through letters to the editors. Newspapers also get to decide what news they should report on, by doing so they keep public in the dark.

Alternative newspapers can tackle issues that are faced by working class people, black communities, and provide a space for dialogue where information is not from the top. People have resorted to using social media as an alternative space to communicate and voice out issues. However social media, as vast and wide spread as it is, does not carry the same weight as newspapers.

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