So where does a platform like Whaleshares fit into the realm of alternative media? Well, it's important to note that alternative media is not just a term, it's also a phenomenon. For many people, including media academics and scholars, the term is an elusive and ambiguous one that engenders various different interpretations. There exists a broad and varied theoretical framework explaining what exactly alternative media means and what it entails. However, as with many things in the academic realm this should not be taken as necessarily true.
The left would try to claim that alternative media is their platform of expression. It is not. It is everyone's. In its most simplest form alternative media could be argued to be any type of media which is neither mainstream or conventional. However, this is a broad definition and does not fully explain the myriad alternative media that exists. For example where would a platform like Whaleshares fit into this definition?
Alternative media has existed for hundreds of years, but the concept as a specific type of media communications has only recently emerged, since the 1950s. Prompted by the outbreak of political and social unrest of the era which surfaced in various countries. The alternative agendas, and in many cases the revolutionary causes which became more common, fuelled the desire for a media which represented the voices and beliefs of the people. It was at this juncture where a new alternative press was incepted, where individuals and groups began to produce their own publications such as: leaflets, pamphlets, newspapers and magazines.
These publications were originally classed as fringe media. By the 1960’s fringe media had begun adopting the use of low budget films, independent radio and local television to convey its messages. A large proportion of alternative media publications are produced with minimal budgets. In the modern digital age the internet has made it possible for the production and distribution of an ever increasing diverse range of alternative media. Social media sites like Steemit and Whaleshares further the goal of permitting a wider freedom of expression. In fact the Whaleshares platform is so different from other social media contenders like Facebook and Twitter it could potentially empower users through content enrichment, whether that is inspiring people to broaden their knowledge bank or challenging people to question more.
The internet has spawned a plethora of alternative websites including platforms for the promotion of social causes, popular culture fanzines and anarchist movements. It is also an outlet where right wing conservatism can find a voice after a long period of suppression and censorship by mainstream media platforms. Blogs are proving to be a key feature of the modern alternative media landscape as well as video based services. The interactive element of these services means greater community engagement. This experience is heightened with a platform like Whaleshares as the issue of financial reward has to be factored in. In my opinion this helps to focus peoples' minds on the content they wish to share, and more consideration goes into the production of that content.
A new breed of alternative news media has also surfaced which offers different angles than that of the mainstream news media. It has also engendered the term ‘participatory media’ because of its global appeal and the fact that it encourages direct contributions from ordinary people.
It is important to remember that the term ‘alternative media’ is some times employed to describe media which in actual fact is not alternative. The subjective nature of the media renders it susceptible to many meanings and manipulations. This becomes even more important when considering the alternative news media. There can be no doubt that alternative news publications and websites have made a considerable impact on the media landscape, resulting in more choice of news consumption, but not as much as some people realise. Many huge media corporations are buying up smaller independent outlets.
Furthermore, alternative news platforms are constrained by their own independence and by the fact that they are participatory. Alternative news websites have proven they can be effective in dealing with localized news stories for an individual community, but they are less effective when competing with the global news organisations and their agendas. This is where I believe Whaleshares can bridge the gap.