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Alternative media is ready to take on the mainstream – here are 8 independent media sites to check out in 2017

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It’s been an interesting year for media, old and new. As the established mainstream press come under increasing criticism, new media sites and personalities have come to the fore. The old guard, of course, have responded with the ‘fake news’ controversy. Allied by mutual self-interest and often no small degree of arrogance and fear, the political and media establishment have rounded on new media and those who create it. 

With that and the mainstream’s astounding success at Evolve’s inaugural ‘Phoney Awards’ in mind, here are some of the best and brightest examples of new media. Blogs and websites covering issues the mainstream either pay lip service to, actively avoid or simply ignore. 

We’ll start with Zelo Street, a blog from reporter Tim Fenton. It has a broadly liberal slant with a tinge of leftism about it. It’s even-handed, though, so don’t expect a rabble-rousing call-to-arms loudly parroting lefty dogma while skating over those times when leftist types do something daft. Easily found on Twitter, this one’s been around since 2009 and Fenton is also linked to new media site Byline Media. 

Speaking of Byline, this is another one to pay attention to. A newcomer, Byline has some decidedly heavyweight contributors. Among others, contributors include Norman Finkelstein, Beatrix Campbell, Peter Jukes and Rowan Pelling. Byline operates without advertising or corporate investment, seeking to retain its independence by encouraging readers to fund stories by direct donation. It’s certainly not an avowedly-leftist site, but it is new and, looking at its contributors, is certainly worth checking out. If the business model works then Byline will certainly be one to watch. 

The Pileus is a co-operative effort and another newcomer to the web. Like many new media outlets it seeks to cover issues overlooked or perhaps deliberately ignored by the mainstream. It’s anti-Tory and anti-Blairite, but isn’t afraid to criticise lefty commentariat types such as Owen Jones. Avowedly leftist, blunt and fierce, it’s very new but well worth a look to see how it develops. 

The Skwawkbox has only recently attracted much attention, but it’s been around since 2012. Its profile has been considerably boosted by solid writing on topical issues, spread widely and cleverly via social media platforms like Twitter. Its unafraid to tackle big national issues, but doesn’t ignore local and regional affairs, hence recently coming under fire from members of at least one city council. Another one devoted to boosting coverage of issues otherwise underrepresented by the mainstream media. 

Another Angry Voice is well-named. It’s fierce, blunt and outspoken, exactly what you’d expect from a Yorkshireman. That said, it doesn’t hide poor, weak content with an excess of dogmatic white noise. This isn’t an empty vessel sounding the loudest, by any means. Creator Thomas G. Clark has been blogging on social, political and economic issues since 2010 and, while there’s some anger, the facts covered and sources used are reliable. 

Left Foot Forward is one of the UK’s better known and more established new media sites. Founded in 2009, it covers economic issues, social security, public services, immigration, sustainability, Europe and the media. Definitely not a rabble-rousing bunch of free-thinking anarchists, their coverage is moderate in tone, serious in style and conventional in presentation. No dogma-as-clickbait rabble-rousing or bending the stick when it comes to facts and sources here. Just solid, conventional, reliable new media. 

The Canary is probably already familiar to many but, considering their remarkable ability to get under the skin of the Tories and the Blairites, they’re certainly well worth checking out. Founded by Kerry-Anne Mendoza of Scriptonite Daily fame, The Canary are skilful users of social media as well as having a knack for attention-grabbing stories. The site is growing rapidly in exposure, popularity and influence so well worth bookmarking. 

One of the most recent arrivals is Rachael_Swindon. Only a few weeks ago her blog didn’t exist, now it’s building a large following at a staggering speed. Another skillful user of social media, her tone is reasoned, but resolute, assertive without being aggressive. Rachael’s output is reliable and her popularity is staggering at the moment. Neither a rabid pit bull or a yapping poodle, Rachael_Swindon definitely has some bite and, if her audience continues growing as it has been, her influence will grow with it. 

One last thought, funding. Many of these sites don’t take corporate advertising or investment in order to retain their editorial independence. To keep going they rely on donations from subscribers and followers. If you like what they do and want to see new media flourish, donate if you can and help them survive and thrive by liking and sharing their content on social media.

If you have any suggestions for alternative media sites to check out, please feel free to list them in the comments below and we’ll add them to our list.

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