Research Output

Sourcing routines and representation in alternative journalism: a case study approach.

  This study is a first attempt to examine how the alternative media select, represent and deploy their news sources. The literature suggests that, in contrast to mainstream sourcing routines, the alternative media privilege “ordinary”, non-elite sources for their news and, through what has been termed native reporting (Atton, 2002a), offer such sources a platform to speak directly to audiences. The primary research examines a single publication, the UK activist newspaper SchNEWS. The paper's sourcing routines are examined through a triangulated approach that combines interviews with content and discourse analysis. Superficially the findings confirm what the literature argues: that the paper does indeed privilege “ordinary” sources above elite sources. However, the depth of the study reveals nuances that are absent from the literature. In particular, the findings of the study suggest that a counter-elite dominates sourcing practices at SchNEWS, and the deployment of these sources is just as reliant on expertise, authoritativeness and legitimacy as are mainstream sourcing routines. Strikingly, the paper's use of “ordinary” citizens (that is, those not explicitly politicised through grassroots activism) is very low, suggesting that the paper's counter-elite sourcing practice is determined more by its own political ideology than by any radical media philosophy.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    30 November 2004

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  • DOI:


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  • Library of Congress:

    NE Print media


Atton, C. & Wickenden, E. (2004). Sourcing routines and representation in alternative journalism: a case study approach. Journalism Studies. 6, 347-359. doi:10.1080/14616700500132008. ISSN 14699699



News Sources; sourcing routines; alternative media; radical media;

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