Laura Bohannon

Building a New Alt-Media

Alternative, or alt-, or disruptive media is an extremely interesting — and exciting — prospect for entrepreneurs seeking their next business venture.  With that said, getting into the “alt-“mosphere can be risky because it’s an area yet to be defined.

In his article, media expert Ken Doctor argues the alt- message can be confusing, including a “dark” association with the alt-right.

In the same article, Doctor writes the alt-media is designed to, “hold the media accountable, and make your public officials hear you,” Zahra Billoo, the executive director of the Bay Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations told the Washington march Saturday. Expect to hear a lot more of that sentiment. Within the demand comes both a threat and an opportunity to reclaim a paying readership for news that newly matters in subscribers’ lives.

Further, Doctor cites an unlikely source for help to explain what alt-media could be: Robert Fulghum from All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. He says Fulghum’s tips “seem oddly modern and newly recited in this toxic political atmosphere.” Here they are:

  • Share everything.
  • Play fair.
  • Don’t hit people.
  • Put things back where you found them.
  • Clean up your own mess.
  • Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
  • Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.

If this is the case for alt-media, sign me up, except in some cases, where you can sign me up…minus the last bullet point. As journalists, it’s important to recognize that sometimes people may be hurt as a result of your coverage. For example, and this is extreme, take what’s been happening with Larry Nassar.

Nassar was no doubt hurt by the coverage, but no one needs to apologize. He deserves everything he’s getting and more, if you ask me, and it’s important to shed light on uncomfortable, horrifying topics sometimes as reporters.

So, while it’s important to be fair and to tell as many sides of a story as you can get as a reporter, I believe the only time it’s warranted to apologize is if you get it wrong. 

This takes me to the next article I read, which looked at how to start a business or news outlet from scratch. While reading chapter 3 of The New Business Models For News Toolkit, I felt myself continuously nodding my head in agreement with a lot of the advice given. I felt like a lot of what I read was reinforcements for things I’ve learned throughout my time in school and during internships mixed with common sense.

In the scenarios I’ve found myself thinking of business or event ideas, one of the most important things to me as always been how feasible something can be. In the marketing and branding strategy section of this reading, one of the key takeaways was: understand how you’d like to market and brand your company, but more important, understand the costs associated with that.

To me (and I’m sure many others), it’s a no-brainer to think about budgeting things like this out and sticking to that budget. It’s important to understand what is feasible and what isn’t feasible (both in regard to finances and personnel) for a company prior to making decisions involving marketing strategy, etc.

For me, the connection between these two articles is not obvious, but I think that applying disruptive thinking and new ideas while employing traditional business savvy is a great way to approach disruptive startups, especially in media.

2 thoughts on “Building a New Alt-Media

  1. I totally agree with what you started out with saying about how alternative media could be a very exciting and potentially even lucrative media business as an entrepreneur. Yet, I still can’t get over the connection between alternative media and the alt-right. To me, it seems too risky to get anywhere near such a toxic ideology. I am very curious to see how alternative media will evolve in the future though.

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  2. Laura, I totally agree with the idea that determining somethings feasibility is extremely important. Sticking to a budget and truly knowing not how much your willing to spend but how much you can spend can make or break a company because your potentially going for something that is realistically out of reach.

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