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Counter media, counterpublics, resistance

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Organizer: Tatjana Aleksić

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Unlike the term counter culture, which roughly designates opposition to mainstream cultural trends, the term counter media has received little engagement, and then almost exclusively in relation to populist affiliations and accusations of peddling fake news and other dubious content. This panel wishes to first, reclaim the very term counter media from the negative connotation of truth alternative, and subsequently to provide awareness of the various practices of media outlets which may deviate from standard journalistic guidelines, yet whose work nevertheless leads towards the goal of truthful reporting. What the “counter” in “counter media” signifies, therefore, is not an alternative to the truth; on the contrary, it stands for countering the dry and neutral information presented by official media that very frequently does not tell the whole truth. The “counter” in “counter media” provides the truth omitted, diluted, or otherwise misrepresented in established regime or corporate media outlets.

            Thus defined, counter media open up the space for empowering narratives of resistance and for the creation of counterpublics willing to participate in such critical forms of political engagement. In adopting the term “counter media” to describe non-corporate, non-sponsored, truly independent, or even anarchic media outlets, the panel wishes to explore a more complex relationship between media and politics than exists not only in the commonplace binary of free vs. censored media, liberal vs. conservative, but also the one between established and alternative media. In relation to this final point, our panel urges a reconsideration of the oft-iterated “subversive” potential of counter/alternative/non-established/censored media, and is interested in a discussion of counter media's objective power to influence public opinion, or bring about social change.


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