Comparing alternative media in North and South: The cases of IFIWatchnet and Indymedia in Africa
Frenzel, F. , Boehm , S. , Quinton , P. , Spicer, A. , Sullivan , S. and Young, Z. (2011) Comparing alternative media in North and South: The cases of IFIWatchnet and Indymedia in Africa. Environment and Planning A, 43 (5). pp. 1173-1189. ISSN 0308-518X
Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1068/a43539
Alternative media form an important part of the global mediascape. Research on this phenomenon is however often drawn upon studies in the ‘global North’. In this paper we discuss alternative media in the ‘global South’. We do this by exploring two case studies of co-operation between Northern and Southern partners: ‘IFIwatchnet’ and ‘Indymedia Centre in Africa (IMCA)’. We highlight how Northern and Southern partners differed in identity, organizational forms, and accountability. We find that Northern partners were oriented to more ‘marginal’ identities, fluid organizational structures, and informal structures of accountability. In contrast, Southern activists articulated more ‘mainstream’ identities, relied on more structured forms, and linked to formalized modes of accountability. The result was often significant clashes over what it meant to be an alternative media, how it should be organized and how people should be held to account. This meant North-South co-operation was often fraught with struggle. These difficulties remind us of the limitations of creating global co-operation through seeking to spread modes of activist organization developed in the North, which emphasize autonomy, networks, fluidity and in some instances, direct action.
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