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Title chapter: The Rise of the Alternative: Critical Usefulness of the “Alternative Media” Notion in the Czech Context
Author: Ondrej Pekacek
Keywords: Czech media ecosystem, media transformation, alternative media theory, anti-systemness, populist communication
Abstract: Czech alternative media have experienced a decade of remarkable growth. One of the exemplary cases is the rise of the alternative outlet Parlamentni Listy (The Parliament Letters), whose readership rivals the mainstream press, despite media watchdogs implicating it in the spread of disinformation. The emergence of staunchly anti-pluralist and disinformation-linked outlets such as Parlamentni Listy has proved to be a substantial challenge to the prevailing research paradigm that has considered the proliferation of alternative media as a positive development for democracy. The first part of this chapter examines structural factors of this conjuncture, particularly the role of public distrust of mainstream media, the increased media concentration at the hands of domestic business moguls and foreign actor sponsorship. To address the shortcomings of current research, the chapter also examines the applicability and limitations of two additional frameworks. The Alternative Media Anti-Systemness Matrix (AMAM), which extends the Mainstream/Alternative Continuum (MAC) by focusing specifically on ideological and relational anti-systemness of alternative media. The Populist Political Communication Framework (PPCF), in turn, expands on the character of the communication of the antagonistic relations, thus enabling us to gather additional insights regarding the creation of horizontal (“the people” vs “the elites”) and vertical (“the people” vs “the others”) antagonisms and better distinguish between the ideological orientations of the Czech alternative media outlets.
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