CMA Conference 2017 Voices in a Changing World

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Sep 242017

This year’s Community Media Association conference went by in something of a blur! Held at The Station in Bristol, the conference had a theme of thinking about community media as an important movement for community development, civic participation and creative expression.

Helping to organise a conference means that you don’t really get to relax to enjoy the panel discussions and the breakout session, and because there was a lot packed-in to the conference, it meant that the CAM Council team had to stay on our toes in order to make sure everyone felt welcome, included and could get what they wanted from the sessions.

The Station is a great venue, and had the right feel of informality, technical capability and accessibility. Other venues might be slicker and more corporate, but The Station had the feel that it was a hub for community activities focused on supporting young people in Bristol.

My main job was to host a panel discussion at the start of the main session. I decided to approach it like I approach my podcasts, as an informal discussion in which we could open-up any issues that concerned the panel members. We started the session by playing a video of Ishmahil Blagrove who berated the media for their coverage of the Grenfell Tower tragedy (see video below).

I was worried that this would be quite controversial, but the passion and eloquence that Ishmahil shows in his critique of the exploitation of communities by corporate media got a round of applause from the room, and it propelled us into a stronger discussion of why community media is important.

The CMA Council has a very strong team at the moment, who are all committed to developing and leading on the changes that face community media, and are increasingly recognising that these changes can only come about it community media acts as a movement for change, and not just as a service sector for government or corporate media.

I’m exhausted this morning, after a couple of beers last night, so I’m going to snooze on the train and catch up with some reading and get back to Leicester and get myself ready for the coming week of new students at DMU.


CMA Conference Bristol 2017

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Sep 222017

This is slightly ridiculous, but this is the first time that I’ve actually been to Bristol! I’m not very well traveled, so when it was decided to hold this year’s Community Media Association Conference at The Station in Bristol, it had the double benefit of being in a place that is on my list to mooch around.

Ujima Radio offered to host the conference this year, because the building that they are part of, The Station, has some excellent facilities and an inclusive approach to training, services and support, all under one roof, in the centre of the city.

So the job today is to set-up the conference room, to learn how use the sound desk and the projector, and to make sure that we have everything working so we can run the discussion sessions and the break-out sessions.

The theme of this year’s conference is Voices in a Changing World, because we want to broaden the debate about community media. In my view it is too easy to get bogged down in managerial talk of services sectors and economic development, and to miss the important issues that drive change, and the values that people feel and wish to express.

I’m looking forward to some vibrant debate, to learning from people who have experience pushing the boundaries of community media, capturing some interviews for a podcast, and taking lots of photos. As usual I’ll be Tweeting and posting on Instagram. I’m not sure what the hashtag is yet, so watch out and join in the discussion wherever you are.

Community Media Conference 2015

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Sep 142015

This weekend I was at the Community Media Association conference in Luton. The annual get-together of people who run and support community media across the United Kingdom.

The conference is organised by the Community Media Association to bring together volunteers and activists who run community radio stations, community art projects, community newspapers, and so on. I always enjoy being with people who volunteer in community media, they have a passion and commitment to transforming people’s lives through participation by making media for themselves.

We all have stories of how transformational this process can be, and what a difference it makes to the people who volunteer for community media. Changing lives and a sense of expectation about what can be achieved is a powerful selling-point for community media.

Chris Burns - Radio Academy

Chris Burns – Radio Academy

We were addressed by Chris Burns from the Radio Academy. What was interesting was the extent to which she was concerned to address common standards of training between the radio sector, ‘the industry’ as she kept calling it, and the community media sector.

I’m sceptical about linking to closely with the major broadcasters and following their agenda for skills and training. People who support community media have plenty of experience working with non-traditional learners who would struggle in an industrial environment. This suggested to me that there is a gulf of understanding about what community media is about, what it tries to do, and how it tries to do it.

I’m sure that there is a lot of well-meaning and good intentions from people who want to see a vibrant community media sector, I’m just not convinced that community media can thrive if it is only viewed as a poor-relation to the ‘grown-ups’ in the national media businesses.

Community media has to fashion an independent identify that is different from professional media. An identity that is focussed on social and personal transformation, and which is clearly marked as different from the game that is played by the BBC or the Radio Academy.

Community Media World Podcast 2 – CMA Conference 2013

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Jun 032013

On the first of June the Community Media Association held it’s annual conference at Media City in Salford, to mark thirty years of community media activism, both at home in the UK, and around the world. The power of local communities, speaking for themselves and about themselves, continues to be championed relentlessly by a growing number of community media activists.

I wanted to find out more about the community media ethos. What motivates and drives people to set-up and run their own community media groups? What is it that brings volunteers together so that they can talk, report and share their local and personal experiences that matter to them? I wanted to find out what’s at the heart of community media, and how community media activists are getting ready to face the challenges of the future?

Community Media Association Conference 2013

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Jun 012013

Community Media Association Conference

For thirty years the Community Media Association has been championing and advocating for community media and it’s place in UK media. Celebrating it’s thirtieth anniversary conference today at Media City in Salford was a great moment to reflect on what has been achieved and what potential there is for the future.

The event was well attended by over one hundred delegates who had come from all over the United Kingdom to hare their experiences, network and renew their faith in community media. I spoke with delegates throughout the day, and the one thing that they had in common, was their passion and commitment in supporting an alternative way of doing media. One that is built on inclusiveness, participation and the rights of communities to speak for themselves.

Today was also a day for catching-up with friends who support stations in Lincoln, Sunderland and Manchester, while making new friends who understand the way that community media is able to transform people’s lives and show how much can be achieved if they are given the opportunity to produce radio programmes, television programmes and run arts events for themselves.

I’ve recorded some interviews that I’m going to edit on Sunday morning, so there will be a chance of hearing first-hand what people have been telling me about the value of community media.