FRONTLINE: The nexus of political documentary and alternative journalism

Addressing the social world

  • Norman Zafra University of Auckland
Keywords: alternative journalism, Christchurch rebuild, documentary, Frontline, journalism as research, labour migration, New Zealand, Philippines, political documentary


This article is a critical commentary of how political documentary embodies the traits and functions of alternative journalism. I explore this notion through Obrero (‘worker’) my independent documentary project about the labour migration of Filipino workers to Christchurch, Aotearoa New Zealand, after the earthquake in 2011. This article maps out the points at where the theories and practices of alternative media and documentary intersect. Analysing political documentary as a format of alternative journalism has links to the long tradition of film and video production as a tool for social critique. As a form of practice-based research, Obrero falls under the rubric of alternative journalism—able to represent the politically marginal sectors of the polity and report on issues underreported in the mainstream press. This article concludes that a distribution plan that is responsive to fragmenting audiences works best when alternative journalism no longer targets a niche but transborder audiences.


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How to Cite
Zafra, N. (2020). FRONTLINE: The nexus of political documentary and alternative journalism: Addressing the social world. Pacific Journalism Review : Te Koakoa, 26(2), 162-178.