Spotlight on: The Alternative Press

“Alternative press” is a broad term for independent, non-corporate, non-mainstream newspapers and magazines, and publications from radical, anti-establishment, or counter-culture groups.  Alternative press outlets tend to cover stories the mainstream media (MSM) duck.  And when they cover the same stories as the MSM, they tackle them from a different point of view.

Alt press outlets counter corporate power, middle-of-the-road assumptions, and the status quo.  And for those reasons alone, they deserve the attention of researchers.

A great place to launch a search for reliable, authoritative alt press publications is the Alternative Periodicals tab in the Grad Center’s Newspapers Research Guide.  You’ll find links to current and historical sources in print and online (via the open web and library subscription databases) that will help you get started with your research.

You’ll also see a link to the Alternative Press Center (APC), a tremendous resource for identifying periodicals.  Use the online directory to browse by title or by dozens of subject categories, including Education, Environmental Justice, Politics, and the Peace Movement.

The APC publishes Annotations: A Guide to the Independent Critical Press, a printed volume with descriptive entries on 385 periodicals of the Left from around the world.  They also publish the Alternative Press Index, an essential database that indexes journal, newspaper and magazine articles from over 300 international, alternative, radical, and leftist periodicals from 1991 to the present.

Other resources highlighted in the Alternative Press tab are links to several New York Public Library databases (which require an NYPL library card for access), including African American Historical Newspapers, the Communist Historical Newspaper Collection, and Independent Voices:  An Open Access Collection of the Alternative Press.

Contemporary sources highlighted in the Alternative Press tab include links to online and print sources such as Mother Jones, The Intercept, The Indypendent, and Democracy Now, as well as the databases Left Index and Ethnic News Watch.

Studying a topic from an alternative point of view can open your eyes to a whole new world of sources, information, and analysis.  So consider making room in your bibliography for independent publications that counter the MSM.

About the Author

Donna Davey is an Adjunct Reference Librarian at the Graduate Center Library.