Understanding factors and barriers to alternative media development in emerging economies: Learning from the Check Global project
Check Global is a journalism and digital literacy development project (2019–2021) supporting countries and regions affected by conflict or state controls. In such contexts, expectations are set high for alternative journalism to accurately counter mainstream media narratives, controlled as they often are by the state; this article presents factors to be taken into consideration as a starting point for better understanding the challenges involved in developing journalism, e.g., through funded training initiatives. The article draws on interviews with prominent alternative and independent media outlets (some of them Check Global partners) from India, Latin America, Egypt and Lebanon, who therefore have operational experience of these issues. By viewing digital and social media through an anti-determinist lens, we challenge assumptions — especially prevalent following the 2011 Arab uprisings — that ‘open access’ and social media platforms can easily provide solutions to media plurality concerns. We explore factors such as the role of technology in alternative media, but also the main barriers faced by alternative media projects and outlets. This article therefore opens up a more honest discussion about the nature of alternative media projects in such contexts, and the ways in which digital literacy projects such as Check Global could support them.
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