The freedom self-publishers have to get information out there is really unrestrictive (considering they're not publishing avant-garde stories in China or something). But who's reading them? When you're talking about, say, the online zine for blind stoner-rocker kids, they can't really compare with the kind of readership the Toronto Star gets.
The good thing about a big paper like the Toronto Star (or even a free publication like Metro), everyday people read them daily with an expectation to read about certain stories and opinions that have mass appeal - but even with the large readership, the content with supposed mass appeal won't always appeal to the masses.
That's why self publishing can be so great, it creates opportunities for small niche groups to speak out, publish and talk about the content that appeals to them. But when those niche groups are trying to bring new information out in the open, the kind of information that needs to be heard by the public just doesn't always make it to mainstream - protests, crimes against humanity, scandals - bringing awareness to things like that don't always capture the attention of anyone except for the small population of readers who dsicover these independent publications.
I guess that brings me to my point:
there should be more emphasis on mainstreaming independent, self published content on the internet.
It's frustrating sometimes. It's not easy going beyond the Google search engine and digging through the internet for legitimate sources that I can learn more from. Self-publishers need to figure out how to bring what they have out into the open for easier accessibilty.
In addition to that, there needs to be more work done in "selling" new information and ideas to the public, to help stir more interest in something they may not have been interested in before.
Global Warming is a good example of stirring interest in a new idea. An Inconvienent Truth. Al Gore and his presentation on the toll that climate change is having on our world brought the issue into the mainstream. Now, it's commonplace to be concerned about "how to go green" and what normal people can do to make a difference.
There's so much room for independent self-published zines to grow and spread out beyond their own niche audiences. It's just the matter of how; there are solutions out there - whether it be striking deals with big companies like Rogers, advertisement affiliations, etc.
Sure, the internet is littered with these little niche sites but just knowing that they exist won't always be good enough.