What is the so-called “independent media” or “alternative media”? What are the main differences between independent media and mainstream media (or called mass media)?
“…‘independent media’, in this discussing context, is a kind of media independent from the influence of all governments, political parties and business corporations on financial and editorial issues, having a non-commercial form of the kind.” 
Medium (or media), such as radio, television, newspaper, magazine and also internet media, is a kind of communication implement which helps for delivering information to people. Through the use of media, people can achieve new information and knowledge and keep in touch with the changing of society. Generally speaking, media refers to the so-called “mass media” or “mainstream media” in modern society. The main contents delivered by such media could be advertisements, news reports, entertainment programmes and so on. Nowadays, the majority of media are mostly operated by global commercial corporations. Among them, some could have specific political stance on news reporting and programme broadcasting because they are directly sponsored by governmental foundations or institutions having particular political preference and background, besides relying on the profit from advertisement for media operation.
“Independent media” means that there is a kind of media which is not operated by any company or corporation for private interest, but run by people for people themselves. Also, independent media are free of being influenced by the developing tendency of business market and mass taste. Ip Iam Chong (Ye Yincong葉蔭聰), one of the founders of the “Inmediahk.net” who is Teaching Fellow of the Department of Cultural Studies at Lingnan University, Hong Kong, argues that the most significant characteristic of the operation of independent media is a non-commercial form of media practice, resisting any economic or political influence on the information contents delivering and organizational structure of the media.
(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)
 Generally speaking, independent media or alternative media is the allied media organizations for fighting against the monopolization of media space done by mainstream media bosses. For alternative media, Christopher Frank Atton, Professor of Media and Culture in the School of Arts and Creative Industries at Edinburgh Napier University, argues that: “Chris Atton uses the term ‘alternative media’ to mean ‘a range of media projects, interventions and networks that work against, or seek to develop different forms of, the dominant, expected (and broadly accepted) ways of “doing” media’ (2004: ix). This is a useful definition as it includes projects outside a narrow definition of ‘media’, and allows space for consideration of, for instance, broader activities such as the open-source and anti-copyright movements that are aligned with many alternative media projects. Atton believes that alternative media must encompass all cultural forms of independent production and should display the following characteristics (Atton 2002b: 27): radical content, be it political or cultural; strong aesthetic form; employ ‘reproductive innovations/adaptations’ (ibid) taking full advantage of the available and cutting-edge technology; alternative means of distribution and anti-copyright ethos; transformation of social roles and relations into collective organizations and de-professionalization and; transformation of communications processes – ‘horizontal linkages’ (ibid).” See: Coyer, Kate, Dowmunt, Tony, Fountain, Alan (2007). The Alternative Media Handbook. Oxford: Roudledge. p. 3.
 See: Ip, Iam-Chong (葉蔭聰) (2009). New Political Power: The Development of Hong Kong’s Independent Media (新政治力量:香港獨立媒體的發展). Mass Communication Research, 99, p. 223.
 To justify this statement, we need to analyze how mainstream media report the news related to social movement. For example, please see the BBC News “Occupy protests disrupt ports across US West Coast” (Retrieved December 13, 2011, from the BBC News website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-16152553). We discover that the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC is the national media funded by British government) has a specific stance or judgment on the Occupy Wall Street movement. The report does not mention the history or the developing background of the movement. We, through reading the report, are unable to catch the whole picture of the movement because it just concentrates on emphasizing the negative effect of the movement on society. It shows the fact that mainstream media could do their injustice or incomplete reports based on their “interpretation” and “need”.
This is another report for the social movement in China: “Deal in China rebel village Wukan welcomed” (Retrieved December 22, 2011, from the BBC News website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-16297463). From this report, we can fully catch the background, progress and other related details of the movement. It is apparent that the media has its attempt to affect the public opinion on the two reported social movements. By this reporting manipulation, the mass would be trended to be strengthened the impression that “Chinese society really has its ‘problem’ that is more serious than the U.S.’s”. The main point is the two movements have been reported unequally by the media just because they broke out in different countries. This discriminative tactic shows that the media has its political stance. Therefore, independent media, which are established based on the demand for the “real fact” and alternative viewpoints for common people, open up an alternative approach to reporting and discussing social issues. In addition, the media, as a communicating platform with the website-form, generally has the comment-posting function which offers an approach for people to giving their comments and opinions related to various issues and movements for sharing the spirit of solidarity and discussing the “fact” in today’s social circumstance. By this reason, independent media plays its significant role in facilitating the positive development of modern society.
 “Inmediahk.net” (香港獨立媒體網, http://www.inmediahk.net/) has been a representative independent media in Hong Kong since 2004. According to the page “About” on the media website: “The main purposes of the media are to support the development of Hong Kong democratic and social movements, to establish a ‘public space’ which is not controlled by governments, corporations and political parties, to organize citizens for concerning and reflecting on social, political and cultural issues collectively, to open up a people’s horizon on humanistic knowledge, deep thinking and diversified information understanding, to facilitate the dialogue between the Cross-Strait and international communities, to construct a radical approach to social progressive movement. …For the purpose of embodying the independent spirit outside the influence of governments, enterprises and political parties, we need supports from the readers (users) of the Inmediahk.net; the independent media does not accept any financial support from bussinesses or political parties. The financial resources of the Inmediahk.net are all from public donation and voluntaries as well as social groups. If there is no support from the readers, the independent media would not be run enduringly.” Retrieved November 1, 2011, from the Inmediahk.net website: http://www.inmediahk.net/about