What's so alternative about alternative journalism?
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As journalism educators, a great deal about how we teach students to be 'good journalists' has remained unchanged-at least over the past 15-20 years since I was a journalism student and, I suspect, for some time before that. But the world is changing and the world of journalism, in particular, is changing incredibly quickly. While our students' employment prospects and expectations may have adapted somewhat-ie we now teach students they need to be multi-skilled, working across platforms, developing content for online delivery etc-our advice to them about 'what is news' and how to structure the news has remained relatively static. It follows an essentially mainstream and what we call a 'professional' definition of news. This is despite the fact that the study of community and alternative media forms has blossomed over the past 10-15 years, highlighting different ways that journalists working outside the mainstream have been able to engage their readers and facilitate public involvement during times when people were increasingly turning away from traditional journalism, and refusing to participate in broader democratic activities. This paper attempts to tackle an apparently simple concept-to define what it is about alternative journalism that makes it different. While discussions around this issue have continued for some time now (Atton & Hamilton, 2008; Atton 2009; Forde 1997a and 1997b; Collins & Rose 2004; Harcup 2003; Couldry 2002), authors have focused primarily on the media outlets themselves and not on the work of the journalists, with the exception of the very recent work by Atton & Hamilton (2008). This paper contributes to the discussion on this issue through its attempts to define alternative journalism, although its overarching concern is broader and feeds into an international study which investigates alternative journalism in Australia, the UK and the USA. The paper's purpose is two-fold-an illumination of what alternative journalism really is; and ultimately the implications of this discussion for the way we teach journalism education in Australia.
Journalism education in the digital age: Sharing strategies and experiences
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