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In most countries, the sources of news are usually controlled by, or allied with, governments or are owned by large commercial enterprises. In a world where information is highly prized, and Chinese student dissidents send word to the rest of the world by facsimile machines, the role of an alternative press to inform citizens can hardly be overestimated.

Today, in countries that impose tight restrictions on the media, citizens sometimes must go to great lengths to find independent news sources to get a more complete picture. Even in democracies, newspapers and magazines can become so "mainstream" in their coverage that they bypass some important issues and focus on those that they think have the broadest appeal.

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In these four pages, writers talk with publishers from Malaysia, Mexico, South Africa, China, Brazil, and Australia who fill in the gaps left by "sanctioned" and mainstream news sources. Their alternative publications often are shoestring operations, sometimes published under great opposition from governments.

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