For the purpose of this project, Level News is defining "alternative news" as information, culture or advocacy works that serve the public interest and are independent and free of the influence of corporate media monopolies and/or government censorship.
Level News aims to amplify news from underrepresented perspectives in media that are:
By embracing the term "alternative news" to describe the work that has been indexed, Level News recognizes that much like a dirty word, the term "alternative news" has been slapped out of the mouths of independent journalists for fear of recrimination from "authorities". But the phrase "alternative news" is useful in that it casts a wider net than a designation such as "independent news"; in doing so, we recognize that useful (critical) work is emanating from NGOs and activist groups that do not fit the mould of independent news at this moment in time.
The inclusion of advocacy work as alternative news runs counter to the old mantra of mainstream traditional journalistic practice: "Objectivity". Advocacy work -- when it is presented as advocacy work, not positioned as objective reportage -- can provide a dimension that has been all but banished from mainstream media: Public Interest.
One of the driving ideas behind this project is that there is no single "Objective" viewpoint, no unified "Authority" on events. In fact, we recognize these pretensions can be signifiers of hegemony and cultural domination. Objectivity and authority are old tropes that marginalized communities recognize as vehicles of oppression.
It is empowering to realize that all narratives are, in fact, subjective.
Level News recognizes that people whose work is truly in the public interest have largely been driven out of corporate media. After 20 years of de-regulation, corporate media in its current form mostly serves as the Public Relations wing of monopolies that serve elite agendas.
Lastly and perhaps most importantly, Level News has taken into consideration the funding sources for the alternative news publications that have been included. As Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks points out in this spectacular rant, news media outlets in the U.S. are not compelled to disclose their financial or political ties. Each publication that has been included in the Level News feed reader has been researched for their financial ties; the minimal requirement for inclusion is that they must not be part of a large corporate media monopoly.
As with anything, there are gray areas and things evolve over time. This project acknowledges that some alternative media journalists and commentators have been driven to state-funded media outlets (i.e. RT.com or TelesurTV.net) which provide valuable counterbalances to the prevailing mainstream narratives. For these stories we will try to apply a rule of thumb that goes like this: Does it serve the public interest? If so, it is alternative news.
When in doubt, this project would like to err on the side of inclusion rather than exclusion because more perspectives are better than fewer. Alternative news is participatory and invites you to make up your own mind. Level News assumes that the reader is a critical thinker and capable of balancing viewpoints to draw their own conclusions. In fact, that is what this tool is for.