‘Alternative journalism’ may or may not exist

Last night, I went to a panel discussion on "The Future of Alternative Journalism." A few years ago, this panel would have consisted of a...

Last night, I went to a panel discussion on "The Future of Alternative Journalism." A few years ago, this panel would have consisted of a handful of grizzled Village Voice veterans arguing with some tattooed young J school grads about whether rock an roll still rocks. This panel, though, had only two certified alt-weekly people (former New York Press editor Jeff Koyen, and Association of Alternative Newsweeklies head Richard Karpel), along with Democracy Now radio/ TV/ internet gadfly Amy Goodman, former Gawker editor and current blog mini-mogul Elizabeth Spiers, and Robert Cox, president of the Media Bloggers Association and a dead ringer for Karl Rove.

The weird makeup of the panel helps to underscore the point that nobody really knows what "alternative" journalism means any more. The bloggers all think blogs are very important. Amy Goodman thinks democracy is important. And alt-weekly vet Jeff Koyen thinks the alt-weekly form is done, over, finito, played out man, while AAN's Karpel believes, surprisingly, that the alt-weeklies that pay his salary are not yet irrelevant.

So what is the future of alternative journalism in the internet age? Hell if I know. the only solid conclusions reached by the panel were:

--Boy, mainstream media tends to suck these days, what with its blowing off the antiwar movement and constantly sucking on the teat of the power structure.

--On the other hand, boy, alt-weeklies tend to suck these days too, what with their formulaic human interest stories and affected, decaying anti-corporate pose.

-- Obama probably doesn't have enough money to beat Hillary Clinton.

Technically, now that anybody with a blog can now call his or herself an alternative journalist, the golden days of the form are probably behind us.

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