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What Is Alternative media?

Alternative media offer a variety of perspectives and ideas that are not commonly conveyed by the various media products or for-profit information services that dominate the Canadian media landscape. They include traditional media formats, such as books, newspapers, magazines, television, radio, and movies, as well as non-traditional formats, considered “new” (ezines, podcasts, and other virtual publications). ). Some definitions include street theater, mural painting, display and cultural jamming.

An alternative to what?

The term “alternative media” frequently raises the question, “what does this media represent as an alternative? Which makes this notion vague and particularly difficult to define. Should it only understand radical or alternative media, such as those that challenge the status quo, or include in its definition all media except mass-circulation dailies and major television networks ? Should media of languages other than English or French be taken into consideration??

Can media that target specific ethnic or cultural groups be included? Should we only consider non-profit media? There are no easy answers to all these questions. Giving too broad a definition would lead us to include the growing number of media specific to certain sectors or categories of workers as well as specialized media, ranging from professional publications for accountants to radio stations broadcasting only Elvis’s music. On the other hand, a definition that is too narrow may exclude media products that address the concerns of most ordinary citizens, which are often not conveyed by the mainstream media.

Main Features

Media specialists often report shortcomings in the dissemination of news and information by large, lucrative corporations. News Watch Canada, for example, outlined gaps in media coverage of labor issues, social inequalities, corporate power, current environmental issues, and human rights abuses by friendly countries in Canada. Other studies have revealed problems in media coverage of topics related to poverty , race or ethnicity .

The causes of these problems are complex. These are partly due to the fact that media content is determined by the need to offer an audience to advertisers . As a result, news or opinions that do not directly interest the target audience, or information and ideas that may be too controversial or offensive to the potential audience, are simply discarded.

Shortcomings in news content may also arise from specific editorial policies reflecting the political views of the owners or leaders of media organizations ( see Policy and Media).). Another explanation for these problems can be found in journalistic values ​​and practices . Journalists are usually trained to seek the opinions and views of official sources (politicians, business people or community leaders) when it comes to writing their articles. Thus, it is these “business managers” who will often interpret the meaning of the events and create the framework for their interpretation; the articles therefore tend to reinforce the prevailing ideas and the existing relationships within the social power.

Alternative media are generally motivated by goals other than profit. They focus on conveying a range of ideas or opinions that are rarely found in the commercial press or on the interests of a particular community or group that is poorly represented in mainstream commercial media. To avoid being influenced by commercial interests, these media usually belong to the self-employed or often operate on a cooperative or non-profit basis. In addition, to better reflect the needs and interests of their readership and their target audience, they seek the participation and contributions of the members of the community they serve, rather than relying solely on professional journalists.

Information and Communication Technologies

Communication technologies include techniques, tools and methods used to facilitate communications. Information technologies include the techniques, tools and methods used to create, record, modify and display the communicated content. These two types of technologies were developed separately until the 1970s, when information technology began to be applied to the telecommunication network.

The term “information and communication technology” (ICT) has been adopted to reflect the convergence of these two types of technologies and associated industries. ICTs developed and applied today are technologies applicable to computers and communication systems. They are integrated or associated with modern telecommunication networks. In a wider historical sense, however, it is recognized that ICT also includes languages, gestures, habits, codes of behavior and religious rituals, as well as artistic and cultural traditions. (See also Communications )


The telegraph (1837) and the telephone (1876) allow almost instantaneous wireless communication over long distances, a major advance compared to the old methods of using railways, boats or stagecoaches. Communication based on wireless telegraph (1895), HF radio (1926) and radio-radio (or microwave) (1946) eliminate the physical constraint of having to connect each point with a cable.

Microwaves enable the use of high bandwidth channels for the transport of television signals and pave the way for the development of  satellite communication systems and space (1957). The 1970s saw the development of the first portable communication handsets and technologies on the Internet and the Web. Mobile and online communication systems have grown rapidly since their introduction in the 1980s, so that mobile Internet access (for example with smartphones) is now the dominant form of communication and the one that progresses fastest.

The development of ICT in the XXI th century is primarily focused on expanding the features and capabilities of equipment and facilities used to communicate via telephone networks. During the 1990s and 2000s, there is talk of “technology convergence” to describe how ICTs are used to link previously separate media – such as the telephone, radio, television, newspapers and newspapers. computer data – on a single platform, the Internet, which allows the dissemination of information over improved networks of high capacity and high bandwidth.

The increased ability to gather huge volumes of detailed information (metadata) and the establishment of networks of connected devices (via the Internet) has enabled the creation of new and beneficial applications such as real-time monitoring of various parameters in the field. field of science, health and environment. However, this has been accompanied by a significant erosion of confidential data protection by allowing governments, businesses and some “talented” hackers to spy on individuals and organizations.

Nation building

It has long been known that advanced communication technologies can offer enormous economic, political and military benefits. Information is power. Communication technologies have strongly influenced the distribution of power within societies, as well as the rise and fall of empires, as Canadian researcher Harold Innis has shown . A significant portion of ICT-led research and development has been funded by the military budgets of the major powers, which continue to invest in this area today.

For Canada and many other technologically advanced nations, ICT is currently the cornerstone of industrial and political strategies to promote the national economy, unify the nation and position itself in a growing global economy. more competitive. As a leader in ICT-related development and applications, Canada is well positioned to benefit from the benefits of the current revolutionary development of these technologies.