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Interface: a journal for and about social movements;3 (2)
Academic study of alternative journalism is dominated by an approach that celebrates alternative media for its capacity to “empower” citizens. Existing literature on alternative media and alternative journalism often highlight its potential for creating “spaces” where alternative voices can be heard and its value is seen in its contribution towards the construction of alternative “narratives”. While it is important to celebrate the role of alternative media, it is equally important to remain self-critical in order to learn from past experiences, especially when they raise important ethical questions on the type of alternative narratives or alternative truths produced and the solidarity actions these truths and narratives helped bring about. This is the case with much of the reporting in the alternative media on indigenous issues and rights during the civil wars in Nicaragua, Guatemala and, to a lesser extent, in Chiapas, Mexico. This article will try to engage critically with the history of European and North American alternative media reporting on indigenous issues in these countries during the 80s and 90s. The purpose is not to discuss empirical findings, but to reflect on theories that can guide future studies on alternative media and alternative journalism on the wars in Nicaragua, Guatemala and Chiapas, Mexico. This article will discuss the usefulness of theories and understandings of alternative media and journalism that builds on postmodern and post structural versions of social constructionism. The article offers a critique of postmodern and post structural versions of social constructionism in studies of alternative media and alternative journalism. The critique builds on previous critiques of social movement theory and research made by scholars writing from a critical realist perspective.