The political economy of U.S. alternative press : case studies of The nation and The Texas observer

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Date

2010-05

Authors

Guo, Lei, active 21st century.

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Abstract

Throughout the history, U.S. alternative press has published against the grain of mainstream media and politics and on tight budgets. In fact, it remains the political economic dilemma for any critical media project that the financial resources it needs are in the same capitalism society it criticizes. Using a political economy approach, this thesis examined how political economic factors including ownership models, means of support and the government role influence the balance between the editorial goals and business performance of the two alternative or independent publications: The Nation, a privately-owned newsmagazine providing critical opinions and investigative journalism on nationwide issues, and The Texas Observer, a 501(c) (3) nonprofit biweekly covering stories ignored by the mainstream press in the state of Texas. Through in-depth interviews with staffers of the two publications and primary and second sources analysis, this thesis demonstrates the tension between editorial ideals and financial needs that are affected by several political economic factors. It also shows that both alternative papers are committed to democratic altruism and watchdog journalism whenever they deal with political economic pressures.

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