Everyday, we are surrounded by information and media. Most are constructed by for-profit organizations, which have a consumer-driven agenda. Community Media exists to help people navigate through these mass media images, by finding a way to utilize different forms of media to convey messages and information that is relevant to their own lives and communities.
The term community implies that there exists some kind of a social group, with common activities and experiences, but no definition designates the size of the group and characteristics. (Hoffer) In community research, it is suggested that voluntary organizations, civic clubs and community planning and action groups all have the common quality of being based on conjunctive relationships. (Bates & Bacon, 1972) This is especially conducive to the practice of creating and developing content for community media, which can be a community development practice in itself.
In this Media and Community Building class, we have explored the ways in which local news and information is disseminated, and how public access media is essential to a healthy democratic society. Some of the key concepts we have focused on around community media, are that it is for the most part independent of market-driven forces, it encourages community participation in the form of open access and training, and its democratic nature allows it to serve a wide variety of groups and address local issues.
Community Media started forming in the 1960’s with the introduction of the porta-pak, artists and film makers began capturing footage from their surroundings, and the “guerrilla television” movement was born. The mission of making “people’s television” was the inspiration for many of these early filmmakers and artists. The early pioneers of community media formed video groups such as Videofreex, People’s Video Theater, Global Village and Raindance Corporation. (Boyle, 1992) As the medium evolved over the years, resulting in more news and public affairs programming, a wider diversity of views expressed and better television and radio service. (Lloyd)
For this blog, I have explored the community media access available for my community of New Bedford, Massachusetts. New Bedford is a city of approximately 100,000 people, with a rich maritime history. Over the last few decades New Bedford has struggled as an economically depressed area. However within the last ten years or so, it has begun to emerge with a renewed arts and culture scene, and is quickly becoming a tourism destination. Along with this recent revitalization, New Bedford has begun to upgrade and improve community access to information and technology. It operates three Community Technology Centers, boasts an award-winning Public Access Television Station and has several local organizations that offer training for a reduced fee, or in many cases for free. Despite these encouraging trends, there is still room for improvement. The City’s presence on the web is minimal, and the official city website is not interactive for the most part.
Overall, the compilation of accessible community media centers throughout this website reflects a city that is diverse and vibrant, with an exciting future that will be fueled by the many civic and artistic organizations that are using community media to help inform the people of New Bedford about many events, issues, political discussions and arts and cultural activities that are available to them.
Bates, F. L., & Bacon, L. (1972). The Community as a Social System. Social Forces , 371-379.
Boyle, D. (1992). From Portapak to Camcorder, A Brief History of Guerrilla Television. Journal of Film and Video , 67-79.
Hoffer, C. (n.d.). Understanding the Community. The American Hournal of Sociology , 616-624.
Lloyd, M. (n.d.). Communications Policy is a Civil Rights Issue. Retrieved 12 8, 2008, from http://www.comtechreview.org/winter-spring-1998/r981lloy.htm