Community Media and a Stronger Sense of Community

 Community Media, DIY-DMU, DMU  Comments Off on Community Media and a Stronger Sense of Community
Feb 212018

There are two articles about community and community media that are worth reading from today’s Guardian. The first is a brief account by Anna Bawden of the role of community media in the UK, and the potential for a not-for-profit focus on the new Small Scale DAB proposals.

“Lucinda Guy, chair of the Community Media Association, says: “Not-for-profit media is appallingly underfunded”, despite doing “astoundingly important and brave work to heal divided communities, tackle extremism, and boost participants’ mental health. We know that the best foil to divisive rhetoric is to increase the power of moderate voices in those communities to be heard, and yet we see station managers around the country struggling to eat and pay the bills while doing this excellent and essential work to support their communities.” While the government is considering whether the new licences should reserve digital radio capacity for existing and new community stations, the CMA does not feel this goes far enough. Guy adds: “Unless SSDAB is in the ownership and control of communities, which can curate a range of stations that are interesting for local people, we fear that small-scale local radio will deliver profit, not social benefit.”

The second is a piece from George Monbiot, in which he describes how the scourge of loneliness that affects people’s health in many of our communities can be challenged with a greater focus on a sense of community.

“The evidence strongly suggests that social contact should be on prescription, as it is in Frome. But here, and in other countries, health services have been slow to act on such findings. In the UK we have a minister for loneliness, and social isolation is an official “health priority”. But the silo effect, budget cuts and an atmosphere of fear and retrenchment ensure that precious little has been done.”

I wonder when news organisation’s like the Guardian are going to join the dots and realise that community media and better social well-being are connected? I’m sure we can be providing them with a lot of evidence to demonstrate how community media works to improve communities health and well-being in practice.

TECH1502 Community Media Reflexive Blogs

 Community Media, DIY-DMU, Social Media, TECH1502  Comments Off on TECH1502 Community Media Reflexive Blogs
May 122016

This week I’ve been watching vlogs made by the learners on TECH1502 Introduction to Community Media. I’ve really enjoyed listening to the thoughts and ideas about what has been learnt over the year, and how learners have gained a different perspective on what community media is and why it is different from mainstream and commercial media. I need to do some of this vlogging stuff, everyone is so much better at it than me – I’ve got a lot to learn!

Community Unions – A United Push

 Community Media  Comments Off on Community Unions – A United Push
Oct 312013

Organising and activism are at the centre of strong communities. Trade union Unite is one of a number of unions who are pushing for a more widespread level of  community membership. According to Unite their aim is to provide a way that “people can find and use their political voice. Whether it is taking a stand against a service closure or coming together to improve your living environment”. I spoke with Steve Yemm, Unite’s Community Organiser about the potential for community unions and community media groups to work together.

Community vs. Corporate Media

 Community Media, Debate  Comments Off on Community vs. Corporate Media
Oct 052012

DemonFM – Community Media

This week I’ve been encouraging learners to take up blogging on the DMU Commons, which is a WordPress based system that is being developed at DMU, along with other universities in order to enhance the reflexive learning experience by providing a direct way for learners to communicate about their activities in an individual and personal way. The challenge is to empower learners so that they feel confident about being able to present themselves as creative, inventive and dedicated media practitioners, rather than as novices who need to be moderated, controlled and approved before they can venture into to wide world of communication.

Watching the reaction of learners has been interesting, because of the different levels of engagement and commitment that is shown. Some are advanced in their ability to write and discuss issues that matter to themselves in a blog, others are more cautious and don’t immediately think that they have much to offer or opinions that are worth expressing. Faced with a blank page it’s always a challenge to think what are we going to be able to write about? My personal starting point is to take a photograph or a screen-grab and use that to trigger some thoughts about an experience that I then go on to describe and discuss in more detail.

Most important, though, is building the sense that these blogs form part of a community and a network of similarly minded communicators. Learners on the courses in the Creative Media Technology subject area have already taken the plunge and have committed themselves to being media producers of one form or another. It might be music, it might be TV, it might be video, it might be radio, photography or multimedia. The decision has already been made, and so the next step is to build confidence that the opinions that learners want to express are recognised, acknowledged and celebrated. We all have to start somewhere and we all want to show clear signs of improvement in our writing, so why not take the first steps and see what difference it makes.

This process is leading me to think about the importance of the community or social media model, versus the corporate media model. Many of our learners have aspirations to work in large media companies at some point in their career, however, many more will work in more ad-hoc and de-centred networks of informal, entrepreneurial production. What skills will producers of the future need in order to engage with this new production environment? How will learners of today integrate and shape this non-corporate environment? Is the corporate media model increasingly limited and doomed to irrelevance? Are audiences (and we have to think of audiences in terms of multiples now, rather than an homogenous whole) able to by-pass the restricted and dominant channels of communication that are set in place in order to push-out single messages, brands and ‘communication strategies’?

Is community and social media about to be hijacked by the corporate, global corporations because they are the only ones who have the muscle to pay for the R&D, to attract the biggest stars or build a loyal following around a ‘brand’? The advantage that community and social media has is that it is in the hands of the people using it, and if we follow an Open Source model, can be run effectively and cheaply without having to pay money to the mega-corporations that dominate the software and computing industries? Over the coming weeks I’m going to be encouraging learners to develop content for their blogs that can be shared and gifted in social networks of collaborators and producers, it will be interesting to see what kind of style and identity comes out of it.