A New Media Cocktail – 10 Alternatives to Mainstream Media

I severed my connections to mainstream media because:

  1. It does not cover the indispensable and abundant happenings of civil society. Civil society is where problem-solving to make the world a better place takes place every day, everywhere and by just about everyone.
  2. It is preoccupied with politics, economics and sports. And these are dominated by men’s voices. Shamefully women make up only 24% of those heard, seen or read in mainstream media.
  3. It is no longer the only media platform available to communicate with fellow citizens.
  4. The degree of corporate media concentration in Canada is higher than any other G-8 country.

Respected Canadian journalist Beth Haddon observes that journalism has been disrupted by new technology more than any other modern industry. She describes a “new media cocktail composed of people formerly known as the audience.”

The audience is combining new media platforms, new devices, healthy databases, a focus on social impact and new business models. The latter is crucial. Good investigative journalism takes time, talent and money. We definitely want journalists of the calibre of André Picard and Daphne Bramham to continue working at their peak.

This new media cocktail goes by many names including solution based, generative or collaborative journalism. As Beth observes, it is widening the tent, reaching out to the larger society and offering people new and better ways of doing things.

Here in alphabetical order are ten alternatives to mainstream media that I follow:

  1. Axiom News is a pioneer of grassroots, community engaged journalism. They have adapted dialogue, appreciative inquiry and the ‘art of hosting’ to create “a life-giving news network.”
  2. Discourse Media is comprised of seasoned journalists who provide in-depth coverage of the complex challenges facing society. Their journalism promotes imagination and empathy. Imagine that!
  3. Community News Commons is an on-line news hub authored by citizens, friends and neighbours in Winnipeg. It believes an informed and engaged community is a caring and giving community. They offer citizen journalist training.
  4. Fixes Column and Opinionator Blog is David Bornstein’s brainchild. Originally from Montreal, David is the co-founder of the Solutions Journalism Network. A weekly fix of solutions for every imaginable social, economic and financial challenge is delivered via the New York Times. Free subscription here.
  5. Open Canada.org is a digital publication that combines thoughtful analysis, scholarship and journalism with an emphasis on international affairs. Check out A Movement Rises , which shines a light on the movement to end violence against Indigenous women and girls.
  6. Roundhouse Radio emerged from the heart of broadcast legend Don Shafer. Inspired by the Vancouver Foundation’s seminal report on social isolation, he launched a commercial radio station whose sole focus is to bring Vancouverites together “on air, online and in the street.”
  7. See Change magazine focuses on social entrepreneurship. This includes a project dear to my heart, The History of Social Change Movements in Canada.
  8. Tamarack Institute realized their work on community engagement, financial justice and neighbourliness would remain marginalized if they relied on the occasional mainstream media reference. So they became a communications powerhouse. They have the largest audience of change-makers in Canada and beyond. Subscribe to their Engage Journal here.
  9. The Tyee on-line journal focuses on workable solutions instead of chronicling what’s wrong or assigning blame. Here is a recent example of their approach to solutions-based journalism: ‘The Answers to Affordable Housing Are Everywhere.’
  10. Walrus magazine is succeeding where previous magazines have gone bankrupt. The main reason is a revenue strategy that includes subscriptions, advertising and Walrus Talks. This series of public presentations generates significant revenue for the Walrus Foundation the holding company for the magazine.

Social media is disrupting journalism. Some of the above are more successful and further along than others. Some may not succeed. Along with those I haven’t listed they are ‘shaking up’ traditional media and redefining what will become mainstream.   


  1. I am a guest columnist every Monday from 10:00 to 10:30 PST on Roundhouse Radio. Live streaming here.
  2. Tamarack is sponsoring a free 6 part Impact “bookinar series” based on the 6 patterns of my new book. Register here for Advocate With Empathy and my conversation with Sean Moore, founder of Advocacy School. Download previous conversations here.


Far more thought and care go into the composition of any prominent ad in a newspaper than go into the writing of their features and editorials.

     – Marshall McLuhan

Musical Selection: “I Have Seen the Edges of Your Content” by Ian Williams Craig. Listen here. Buy here. Well worth the listen.



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