<#317 World Campus>
Canada, Mainstream Media Is Not Enough!… Then What?
By Cho Jee-young, Overseas Correspondent
Aaron Epp, managing editor of The Uniter, explained why alternative media is needed: “Our role is to inform students what’s going on around campus and Winnipeg. We offer an alternative viewpoint which the media misses but but which is necessary”. The Uniter is the University of Winnipeg’s weekly urban journal which provides information about the school and downtown news, even covering arts and culture sections. The Uniter is distributed to all regions in Winnipeg, so many people may read it.
Nowadays, alternative media such as The Uniter, are coming forth in great numbers throughout the world. This trend is because mainstream media is commercial, publicly supported, or government-owned. They are obliged to be biased in the selection and framing of news and information for the public. To make up for this bias and to provide different points of view, alternative media challenges existing powers and represents marginalized groups. Forms of alternative media include newspapers, radio, television, magazines, movies and the internet. In Canada, we can find diverse forms of alternative media such as social movement media, ethnic/radical media, indigenous media, community media, subcultural media and student media.
Ethnic media is necessary for an ethnically diversified country such as Canada. The Canadian Ethnic Media Association (CEMA), operates as an independent organization without financial support from governments, which means it can operate free from the pressure of the government. The organization upholds the principles of Canadian citizenship and multiculturalism and maintains the right of freedom of expression without ethnocentric bias. The emphasis of CEMA is on the exchange of ideas rather than lobbying. This organization is working for multinational Canada to provide precise information and different viewpoints from mainstream media.
Another alternative media in Canada is the media written by students. Canadian University Press (CUP) is a typical example of newspapers by students. CUP is a national, non-profit cooperative, owned and operated by more than 80 student newspapers from coast to coast. This organization shows how student newspapers exchange stories and ideas and discuss problems they face. CUP also provides members with resource materials, access to one of Canada’s top libel lawyers, a news-hub website, employment and internship opportunities, a mentorship program, a peer and professional network, and regional and national conferences. These specific roles of CUP for students supplement the limited roles of mainstream media while also showing various views of students over the national news.
As the Internet is accessible for many people, alternative media in Canada achieves its goals through being web-based. Some examples of alternative media on the web include Straight Goods, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Indymedia and Rabble.ca. Straight Goods helps Canadians sort out fiction from fact and move away from the same old news and spin from big commercial news sources. Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives offers an alternative to the message that Canadians have no choice about the policies that affect their lives. Indymedia includes independent media organizations providing a democratic media outlet for the creation of accurate and passionate telling of the truth. The last one is Rabble.ca whose objective is to reflect the energy of the exciting democracy movement and Canadian cultural expression. Beyond these examples, many alternative media use the web to provide their information to the masses.
Alternative media in Canada satisfies different groups by presenting alternative viewpoints and information that cannot be delivered by mainstream media. As technology develops, the forms of alternative media become web-based. Alternative media’s target groups vary, such as students and specific ethnicities. As mainstream media cannot cover all regions and satisfy all groups in Canada, the role of the alternative media is becoming important.