CIU211.1 Dialectical Inquiry: Mainstream VS Alternative

Lewinsky, Nukes and other duties…..42d42be5a42613b874c7700d20b3cc10

Lets take a quick look at Mainstream Media and Alternative Media…

Mainstream Media: They include television, radio, online, and press such as magazines, journalists, and newspapers. They are network based and usually easy to find and reach large audiences. While many claim they don’t have anything to do with the government behind closed doors they are government funded, ran, and owned, but some have not given into that pressure.”

Alternative Media: Are usually smaller in size and in many cases are polarized towards conservative and liberal perspectives. They are also found online, on the radio, in the paper, and other publication to a lesser extent on Television. They usually have less funding and smaller budgets.”

Mainstream media is a collective journalistic entity that provides news and information to a large audience. This is in contrast with alternative media, which reaches a much smaller and often more specific audience. Some people refer to mainstream media as “mass media”

Due to mass media being aimed at a large target audience, the news it reports on is typically of general interest, and the reporting is often kept as neutral as possible. Some media sources may avoid reporting on controversial topics because they don’t want to lose members of the audience, and because the mainstream media is often heavily influenced by governments and corporate stockholders.

Some people say that mainstream media focuses much attention on pointless topics, like celebrity scandals, non-news items and stories about pets who can do tricks.

Alternative media is generally considered to be any type of media that is not under the control of a business operation or syndicate, or a government agency. This form of media may involve traditional outlets such as newspapers and magazines, or radio, television, and movies. Alternative media may also involve the newer media outlets of web sites, e-books and e-magazines, streamed audio and video, or other media outlets that are found online.

The main function of alternative media is to offer a different perspective from what is presented in the media that is under the control of a government or a big business. Alternative media was also known as counter-cultural or underground media.


Research shows that business executives lean towards mainstream media while students show interest in alternative media and it also shows that some people like to combine both mainstream and alternative media to get a better perspective.

Technological advancements have helped both mainstream and alternative news and the style of how it is presented to the public.

Social media applications including Twitter and Facebook are also widely used to share news and information and are very successful tools for alternative media.

In some countries, there is no free media and all major media is owned by the government. Alternative media in such countries don’t necessarily represent unpopular opinions. But they do represent opinions in opposition to the government.

Normally, if there is freedom of speech and free media in a country, some major media sources should be able to print news and opinions that oppose the current administration. But if the country is not democratic and media is completely controlled by the administration, then alternative media or “underground” media have to take on this role.

All oppressive governments have the tendency to control media. Those who print or subscribe to alternative media may also be targeted and arrested in such countries.

In America, the first example of alternative media’s lead came when a little known website, The Drudge Report, posted a story on 19th of January 1998 that President Bill Clinton had an affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. The story was taken down by Newsweek just hours after publication. One of the major news stories that did get reported that day was an article in the Los Angeles Times:

Clinton Faces Tough Battle to Bail Out Asia

“WASHINGTON — President Clinton is facing the prospect of another humiliating defeat in Congress next month on international economics, this time over using federal tax dollars to help bail out Asian countries caught up in financial turmoil.”

It wasn’t until two days later that the bigger news corporations started to run with The Drudge Report story. Some of the news headlines that were being reported on that day being 21st January 1998 were:

  •    The FBI arrested dozens of prison guards and police officers in the Cleveland area following a 2-year sting operation on cocaine trafficking.
  •  Jack Lord, TV star of “Hawaii Five-O” fame, died in Honolulu at age 77.
  • In Bosnia Western mediators unveiled a common currency and ordered that it be accepted by the Muslims, Serbs and Croats.
  • Pope John Paul II arrived in Cuba for a 4-day historic visit.
  • Pres. Clinton angrily denied charges that he had a sexual affair with Monica Lewinsky (24), a White House aide in 1995, and that he encouraged Lewinsky to lie under oath about their involvement.

Further research on the Clinton-Lewinsky saga guided me to a very interesting article which sheds light on something else that also came up that day. Clinton had made it known to some high ranking military officers that he had lost the “Nuclear strike codes” and had no idea where they were.

“Mr Clinton normally kept the codes, printed on a laminated piece of card, “rubber-banded to his credit cards” in a trouser pocket, Colonel Patterson said.”

General Shelton and William Cohen, the Defence Secretary, “were both terrified that we might open up The Washington Post the next day to find the front-page headline `President loses key to nukes – launches impossible’

*** The headline never appeared and the card was never found. ***

Alternative news media outlets almost have a way of forcing Mainstream news corporations to have no choice but to report on some of the stories published in Alternative news. If we now go back and look at the image above we can see that there is a set pattern of things to be reported in both types of media. Alternative media really gets into what is happening in the world in detail whereas Mainstream follows a pattern of keeping major stories short and focusing more on glamour, sports, weather and how many cats get stuck in trees.


“Where are the codes Lewinsky?? Come on.. we know you were in his trousers”


Mainstream media:

  • Influences a large number of people and is generally easier to find.
  • Available through television, radio, online and in newspapers.
  • Mainstream news reporters have reached a stage where they are now able to report news while riding into a war zone on a U.S tank.
  • Mainstream media is how most people around the world receive most news.

  • It is said that mainstream media is very good at creating a distraction from real issues.


Alternative media:

  • Outlets are smaller and operate on a smaller budget.
  • Available in many forms including print, audio, video, radio, newspapers and online.
  • Alternative news reporters were able to gather interviews from people involved in the world trade centre which brought to light a different story of events.
  • Alternative media has been very beneficial to social movements such as human rights, civil rights and the environmental movement.

References: (2016). Original Drudge Reports Of Monica Lewinsky Scandal | [online] Available at: [Accessed 13 Jun. 2016].

Haven, L. (2015). Mainstream Media Versus Alternative Media. Who’s Better?. [online] Lisa Haven News. Available at: [Accessed 13 Jun. 2016].

latimes. (2002). Clinton Faces Tough Battle to Bail Out Asia. [online] Available at: [Accessed 13 Jun. 2016].

the Guardian. (2013). What role do alternative news platforms play in the news cycle?. [online] Available at: [Accessed 13 Jun. 2016].

TheAustralian. (2016). Bill Clinton did lose nuclear strike codes: Hugh Shelton. [online] Available at: [Accessed 13 Jun. 2016].