Past research concerning alternative media and activist media have thoroughly explored the role of both in social movements and activist organizations. However, there has been little attention paid to the role of such media in mainstream political communication. However, the rise of the modern Internet and social media platforms have allowed for the proliferation of these forms of media across society in ways that were not possible twenty years ago. Today, alternative media have become more intertwined with mainstream media, and have even become increasingly relevant in mainstream political communication.
The most significant example of the emergence of alternative and activist media in mainstream political communication rests in the election of Donald Trump in the 2016 US Presidential election. As a candidate for the presidency, Trump was a frequent reader and user of content from a variety of right-wing alternative media sources, a guest on Alex Jones’ web based program InfoWars, and eventually hired the editor of Breitbart News to serve as the chief executive of his campaign. That editor, Steve Bannon, went on to become President Trump’s White House Chief Strategist. This is not the only example of such convergence, as mainstream news media often rely on alternative media and activist sources of information for their content about political issues.
In order to address the growing role of alternative and activist media in mainstream political communication, we seek to build an edited volume based on the contribution of scholarship that addresses one of four topics related to these issues. Overall, we are asking for research contributions that provide insights concerning the following topics:
Topic I: The Role of Alternative & Activist Media in Political Campaigns
This topic explores how alternative media and activist media influence political campaigns, and how political campaigns utilize those media. This could include issues such as:
- Alternative media content integrated directly into campaign materials
- Linkages between alternative media and campaign materials.
- The use of alternative/activist media content by political operatives to connect campaigns to political issues.
Topic II: Candidates, Government Officials, and Alternative Media
This topic examines how candidates or government officials take part in alternative media, through production and other forms of participation. This can cover issues like:
- Political candidates or government officials participating in interviews conducted by alternative media titles.
- Alternative media production by candidates or government officials.
- Quotations of alternative media content by candidates on the campaign trail, or government officials locked in policy debates.
Topic III: Relationships Between Alternative/Activist Media, and Mainstream Political News
This topic investigates the role of alternative/activist media in mainstream reporting on political stories, and how those media might shape mainstream political news content. This can involve issues like:
- Differences between political reporting in alternative media and mainstream news media.
- The ways in which alternative/activist media are utilized in mainstream news about politics.
- Fake news as alternative or activist media, and how such news impacts mainstream political news.
Topic IV: Alternative Media, Activist Media, & Political Participation
This topic focuses on the ways in which alternative/activist media have changed notions of political participation, and how they currently shape the ways people become politically involved at different levels. This could encompass issues like:
- Descriptions of political participation or democracy in alternative media content.
- The ways in which alternative/activist media might spur political participation.
- The role of alternative/activist media in local politics.
- The role of alternative/activist media in generating national-level political interest for citizens.
Submission Requirements & Dates:
To be considered for this edited volume, potential authors should submit a proposal of 700-1000 words to Dr. Joshua Atkinson by December 15, 2017. All submissions should provide indication about which of the four topics the author(s) would like their submission to be considered. The editors of the volume will engage in a masked review of the proposals; authors will be notified of acceptance by mid-January. After acceptance, the authors will have eight months to complete initial drafts of the paper and submit to Dr. Atkinson. Final revisions will be due by December of 2018. For more information regarding the topics of interest or key concepts, contact Dr. Atkinson.
Joshua D. Atkinson, PhD
School of Media & Communication
Bowling Green State University
Linda Jean Kenix, PhD
Media and Communication Department
Head of School of Language, Social and Political Sciences
University of Canterbury