It seems almost every reporter, anchor, radio host or ‘influencer’ out there likes to point out they are giving you information that ‘the mainstream media won’t report on.” Sometimes it’s information the mainstream media “wouldn’t dare report on.”
I would offer that if you are trying to interpret the media landscape today, remove the notion of the mainstream media from your thinking because it doesn’t exist anymore.
The modifier mainstream implied wide distribution and consumption, which meant influence, which meant power. While the venerable New York Times has a circulation of ~2 million (1.4 million digital only subscriptions and 600,000 print subscriptions), a big number, it cannot compete with even second tier social networks (i.e. not Facebook). Reddit, for instance, has ~540 million visitors per month. Tumblr has a (disputed) 300 million monthly visitors.
When “news” starts bouncing around inside social networks, and then bounding between these social networks with 25, 50 even 100 million views accumulating, from a numerical perspective, it’s very much mainstream. Remember, the top network news program has just over 9 million viewers.
Yes, in my view, mainstream media is an obsolete term. The replacement should be the vetted media and non vetted media. Because when fake news can become mainstream news, understanding whether a report has been vetted or not can make all the difference in trying to decipher what’s news and what’s propaganda.