Opinion

The Good Kind of Independent, Alternative Media

It’s not all trolls and fake news out there.
IMAGE Tudla Productions
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The term itself is a little unsettling. These days, “alternative media” sounds like a label that influencers and political commentators would aggrandize themselves with, as a way of giving an impression of legitimacy. It sounds like a term that could refer to the “major blogs” and the “non-journalists” of the social media landscape—the personalities we know all too well for sowing lies, fake news, and hate. Perhaps this is because the term seems to imply a distrust of mainstream media, and that’s a common sentiment among those political voices.

But of course, the need for an alternative can arise for other reasons, and they can come from voices that aren’t hateful or purposely misleading. Before Facebook and the age of fake news, “alternative media” referred to a crop of independent outlets who tell stories from the fringes, outside the ordinary purview of mainstream media. These outlets certainly have their political skews and are unashamed to lean towards the anti-establishment priorities of marginalized sectors, but they provide a much more measured voice. These outlets preceded the troll-farm hiveminds that count themselves as “alternative media” today, but have adapted to the new media landscape as well, still alternatives that speak for the otherwise unspoken-for. Here are just a few of many:

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Tudla Productions
Apart from its regular Facebook video coverage of protest demonstrations (of everything from enforced demolitions of informal settlements to workers’ rights and even mining), Tudla produces documentaries “that expose the plight of the poor and marginalized in the country, especially in the urban area.” Among them is Atohan, which is about the marginalization of the Lumad people. Tudla started out in 2003, and counts Joel Lamangan and Bonifacio Ilagan among its board of incorporators.

Southern Tagalog Exposure
Like Tudla, Southern Tagalog Exposure now provides comprehensive coverage of rallies and progressive movements, but focusing on the Southern Tagalog region. They also have a lot of creative content: since 2001, they’ve produced documentaries and even animated music videos towards the promotion of human rights and social justice. This year, they’ve even called for entries of human rights-themed short films.

Mayday Multimedia
Since its inception in 2004, Mayday Multimedia produces short films, documentaries, animations, and infographics about labor laws and the concerns of the working class. One of its films is Kontrata, an eight-minute short that tells the story of a mall saleslady at the end of her contract. Another is this animated infographic about the compressed workweek bill:

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Altermidya - People’s Alternative Media Network
The previous three examples all fall under Altermidya—a network of about 20 alternative media outlets in print, online, and radio platforms. The Altermidya Facebook page recently launched ALAB Analysis, the Philippines’ first alternative online newscast:

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