The history of alternative media is as old as the media itself. For every official or popular account of something, there almost always was a dissenting view.
In the West, Johann Gutenberg’s printing press was seen to challenge the established system in that it provided the common person access to information—the Bible—previously only available to the clergy. The first newspapers in Europe empowered new business classes with information previously only available to the hereditary aristocracy.55
In response to the often radical nature of alternative media, those already in power reacted by curbing the other information source’s power in some way. In the early to mid-nineteenth century, English radical papers challenged the status quo on topics as diverse as religion to human rights. The government reacted via a variety of methods from taxing paper to requiring licenses to publish.56
However this hurt all papers—including those written for elite audiences—and led to a counter-reaction pushing for freedom of the press. Eventually, this right was achieved—lowering operating costs—while advertisers who sought respectability and more affluent audiences thronged to elite papers—increasing revenue; coupled with tactics to appeal to a wider audience—such as gossip columns and crime reports—the previously elite papers essentially put the radical ones out of business. This new type of press led to the codification of news production in that it was completely done by professionals, as opposed to mostly amateurs with a few politically motivated professionals.57
|What role has technology played in alternative media historically? In the present?|