Archive for July 2007

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 07/25/07

July 31, 2007

[ Afer a 3-week hiatus, “Clippings” now resumes – first with stories from just this past week. Once caught up, “Clippings” may revisit stories from earlier in the month, if it seems they’d received inadequate attention. Though some of the stories in these next few days’ catch-up’s will necessarily be somewhat dated, they’re included nonetheless because they seem to be necessary steps to understanding where we are at the moment. – rm ]

The Hillsborough Public Access Letter
Text of a letter from Louise Thompson, executive director of the Tampa Bay Community Network, to the Hillsborough County Commission on a budget proposal to eliminate funding for public-access television (FL)

Dear County Commissioners:

The County Administrator’s recommended FY 08-09 budget eliminates all funding for Tampa Bay Community Network, the public access cable television channel used by the residents of Hillsborough County to learn new and marketable skills and to produce programming that is not only important to them but is also protected by the First Amendment.

TBCN provides County residents with the training, equipment and facilities to produce their own programming. This includes programming containing speech that is critical of our elected officials and local governments as well as programming that highlights our elected officials, local non-profit organizations and governmental agencies. Please note that we are County Community Link Partners and please review our most current annual and quarterly reports [attached] for a detailed listing of all those we are serving. Also, please note that staff from the Museum of Science & Industry recently completed our video production training and is expected to produce programming featuring MOSI on our channels in the very near future.

It appears that there is more than enough money to have kept TBCN in the budget. Although the administrator’s budget cuts off all funding [$355K] to TBCN, it contains $900,000 in increases for the Tampa Sports Authority and Tampa Sports Commission as well as a $1.6 million increase to the Tampa Convention and Visitors Bureau and more than $300,000 over the next two years for the Tampa Convention Center.

Please note that TBCN has not received an increase in funding from the County for seven straight years. Our budget has been stagnant at $355,443 per year although we have asked for increases during every two-year budget cycle. Please also note that cable subscribers contribute a significant portion of the $27 million in revenue that the County collects from communications services taxes and should, therefore, be able to avail themselves of the services and programming provided by the public access channel.

We turn to you for help in assuring that the public’s voice remains on the cablewaves and is adequately funded. Please reinstate funding to Tampa Bay Community Network at least at the level previously allotted – if not more.

I will call your offices to set up meetings with each one of you at your convenience. Thank you for your attention to this matter.


Louise M. Thompson
Executive Director

Public Access Cuts Set Stage For Slams
by Ellen Gedalius
Tampa Tribune (FL)

Public television viewers who want their fix of Joe Redner talking about democracy, or who simply hope to catch a school board meeting, might soon have trouble finding that programming. Hillsborough County Administrator Pat Bean has recommended a budget that could kill the Education Channel and severely cripple the Tampa Bay Community Network, known for its quirky mix of religious advocates, atheists, ethnic shows and antigovernment forces. The proposal was met Tuesday with cries of censorship. —>

FCC Majority Backs Open Wireless
by Barry Levine
Top Tech News

Google’s back-and-forth with FCC Chair Kevin Martin about open access to the 700-MHz spectrum could obscure the fact that Google is evolving. Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at Jupiter Research, said that if Google acquires spectrum, it could be setting the stage for offering even richer mobile experiences, including, possibly, a Google handset. —>

F.C.C. Heading Toward Rejection of Google’s Wireless Auction Conditions
by Miguel Helft
New York Times

The Federal Communication Commission appears ready to reject some of the conditions behind Google’s offer to bid at least $4.6 billion for some of the UHF TV spectrum that will be put up for auction next year. At a House Subcommittee hearing today at which all five F.C.C. commissioners testified, it became clear that there was little support for some of the four conditions that Google has placed on its offer. —>

McDonough officials scrap video-taping resolution
by Jaya Franklin
Henry Herald (GA)

The city of McDonough has decided to kill its resolution, dated July 16, banning video-recording equipment at city council, board of zoning appeals, planning commission and historic preservation meetings. “We can’t do it by state law,” said McDonough City Attorney Scott Bennett. “This was my mistake, the council was acting on what I told them,” he said. —>

County’s cable station is revamping its image
Key component will be reeling in young viewers
by Janel Davis (MD)

Check out the county’s government access cable station at any given time and you’re likely to see some county meeting, an interview with a county official or fuzzy pictures of traffic. While this type of programming may be popular with older residents, County Cable Montgomery Channel 6’s format does not pique the interest of county youngsters. To make the channel’s shows appealing to a wider audience, the channel is undergoing a complete makeover.

From rebranding the station’s image with a new logo to cross-promotion of educational channels, viewers should see changes by the fall, said Donna Keating, a program manager in the county’s cable administration office. —>

The Show – Episode 2
Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center (IL)

I just finished editing my 2nd TV episode of The Show on 104.5FM. It features a discussion on language in the media and court cases with racially charged circumstances leading to exorbitant jail sentences for African American youth. It will air on public access TV this coming semester. I am looking for some critique. If you have a chance, let me know what you think of this episode:

I am currently editing video for episode 3 with Student Trustee Chime Asonye and local Aartists anattica. I will be recording footage for episode 4 this Friday with Prof. Lisa Dixon and Andy Moreillon on Friday, July 27, 2007 @ 10 PM on 104.5 FM. The URL to Episode One is located at:
Free download about the potential for community media to enhance social justice
Believing Impossible Things

From New Routes to Community Health ( …

In spite of its American slant, this downloadable publication has some useful ideas for an international audience:

The Media Justice Fund of the Funding Exchange ( explores the changing landscape in its new journal, Imagining the (UN)Thinkable: Community Media Over the Next Five Years. This collection of essays pushes the boundaries of current research on media policy and provides critical information on the potential power of the internet, radio, and community-access TV to enhance social justice movements.

Written from perspectives of people of color, low-income people, women and other marginalized communities, the report offers useful tools and strategies for media justice advocates. Download the 30-page PDF here (

Public remains as uninformed as ever
by Markus Prior
Times Gazette (OH)

Today’s news world is a political junkie’s oyster. Cable TV offers CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and C-SPAN. The Washington Post, BBC online, The Note and many, many more news Web sites are only a click away. But that’s where they remain for many Americans. Decades into the “information age,’ the public is as uninformed as before the rise of cable television and the Internet. Greater access to media, ironically, has reduced the share of Americans who are politically informed.

The most significant effect of more media choice is not the wider dissemination of political news but mounting inequality in political involvement. Some people follow news more closely than in the past, but many others avoid it altogether.

Now that Americans can choose among countless channels and Web sites, the role of motivation is key. Many people’s reasons for watching television or surfing the Web do not include learning about politics. —>

BlogJam: The insatiable urge
by David Mark

With a sharp focus on national issues and the sizeable audiences they draw, big-name bloggers on sites such as Daily Kos, MyDD and Redstate drive political discussions around the country. But sometimes the most resourceful bloggers are those reporting on state and regional politics — the ones who break news for the national media to follow. Today we profile examples of one such blogger [: Cenk Uygur ] …

Started blogging: While living in Miami in 1998, Uygur started posting articles on his own website, mixing the personal and political. He previously worked at a D.C. law firm. But an insatiable appetite for politics and policy led him within weeks of starting there to work part-time on his own talk show on an Arlington, Va., public access TV station. Word about the show spread, and it was picked up in several other local markets. —>

Comcast Launches Penn State ON DEMAND

Comcast Cable and Penn State University today announced the launch of Penn State ON DEMAND, a unique, groundbreaking collaboration that delivers the deep and diverse resources of Penn State to 2.4 million Comcast customers throughout Pennsylvania. The service, available at no additional cost to Comcast Digital Cable customers, brings hundreds of hours of provocative interviews, concise instructional and educational videos, revealing documentaries, and newly uncovered archival material to consumers on their own schedule, any time of the day or night.

Need to make your case to get started with online videos at your institution?
by Karine Joly
College Web Editor

The good folks at the Pew Internet and American Life Project have just made your life a bit easier by releasing today a new 28-page report about online videos. The results in this report are based on data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates between February 15 to March 7, 2007, among a sample of 2,200 adults, 18 and older.

This report confirms that online videos have made it to mainstream. The majority of adult internet users in the U.S. (57%) report watching or downloading some type of online video content and 19% do so on a typical day. —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Dir., Information & Organizing Services
Alliance for Community Media


Florida Counties Cutting PEG Access

July 24, 2007

No More Public Access?
by Alex Pickett
Creative Loafing

Democracy for America? The Keg Show? Straight From Da Streets? As of Sept. 30, you may no longer have your share of these and 97 other alternative programs on Pinellas County’s public access TV channel. As you may have heard by now, the Pinellas County’s communications department head Marcia Crawley has submitted a budget to the board of county commissioners that cuts all funds to Access Pinellas.

Producers and supporters are up in arms, especially over comments by Crawley that public access is not as necessary in the Internet age. Meanwhile, the county’s government channel — filled with meetings and programs on commissioners’ pet issues — will remain intact.

“The cable subscribers should be enraged because they are paying for these services under the franchise agreements,” says Louise Thompson of Tampa Bay Community Network (Hillsborough County’s public access station).

I talked with Thompson last week about the situation in Pinellas as part of an upcoming news story that will appear this week in CL. At the time, she expressed worry Hillsborough County might face the same cuts. Turns out she was right. Hillsborough County officials have submitted a budget that would slash the $355,000 TBCN receives from the county’s coffers. (For more on that, see the Political Whore’s blog).

Pinellas County public access TV producers plan to flood the BOCC meeting this evening with supporters, trying to convince the commissioners to hold their budget ax steady. (Formal budget hearings don’t occur until the beginning of September.)

In a press release sent out today, Dr. Mary Riggin, president of PCTV’s board of directors, calls on all interested parties to show up at 6:30 p.m.:

“Public access is the citizens‚ soapbox. We own it. We pay for it every month on our cable bills. Though the franchise fees have been diverted to the general fund, we pay for the general fund expenditures with our taxes. While other agencies and companies and even our households are straining to make responsible budget cuts, the Communications Department has left all of it’s boom-time extravagances in place and met the demand to reduce the budget by simply deleting the one thing the public wants from it: community access television. It is unacceptable that county staff and the Board of County Commissioners are taking this cavalier approach under the guise of fiscal responsibility.

“Even with mandated budget cuts the county can still afford to give the citizens access to this free speech channel. All it will take to is a few responsible economies with public funds, the funds you and I provide that they are trusted to administer. We want to make that very clear to the board of commissioners that irresponsible management will not be tolerated by the citizens they serve.”

ACM 2007 Survey of US PEG Access Channels

July 24, 2007

“Clippings” has remained on hiatus while we have been finalizing our survey of US PEG Access channels for our 2007 Community Media Resource Directory. The survey is now in the field. Access channel managers who have not yet filled this out should contact us for log-in address and instructions. The first of the survey’s 10 screens appears below.  We will post the remaining screens and resume the daily clippings next week, following the conclusion of our annual conference in Minneapolis.

Rob McCausland
Director of Information & Organizing Services
Alliance for Community Media


Community Media: Selected Clippings – 07/03/07

July 4, 2007


[ “Clippings” is now on pause.  I’m off to celebrate a friend’s wedding in Tuscany.  Posts should resume July 16. – rm ]

Town objects to new cable franchise rules
by William J. Kemble
Daily Freeman (NY)

NEW PALTZ – The Town Board has agreed to ask Congress to block the Federal Communication Commission’s order that would limit the period municipalities have to negotiate cable franchise agreements.  Objections to the revised regulations were raised during a Town Board meeting last week, when officials were given a list of changes that could affect current negotiations with Time Warner Cable.  “The FCC is making a significant effort to weaken the leverage of local governments when negotiating cable TV franchises,” town Public Access Committee member David Lent said.   —>

Cable bill foes irked at being listed as backers
by Mark Pitsch
Wisconsin State Journal

At the Democratic Party convention last week Cynthia Laitman urged delegates to oppose legislation pushed by telecommunications giant AT&T designed to bring competition to cable television.  But on Tuesday the Edgewood College professor learned that an advocacy group supporting the legislation identified her as one of hundreds of constituents of Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison, who support SB 107 and AB 207, two bills that would allow companies to offer cable anywhere in the state.  “I’m absolutely furious about this,” Laitman said. “I think this is an outrage and they need to be accountable. They cannot fraudulently use peoples’ good names to forward their own vested interests.”  The list of alleged supporters given to Risser, prepared by cable competition advocates TV4US, also included two high-profile opponents of the legislation: former mayor Paul Soglin and lawyer Ed Garvey. Both have posted criticism of the legislation on their blogs.   —>

Cable bill travels down slow road
by Hillary Chabot
Berkshire Eagle Tribune  (MA)

BOSTON — Lawmakers say a controversial bill meant to encourage cable competition might not pass this year because of fierce opposition from cities and towns.  Rep. Brian Dempsey, D-Haverhill, who is chairman of the telecommunications committee reviewing the bill, said that the bill is in no way dead, but that committee members need time to study it after mayors, city managers and other municipal officials statewide spoke out against it earlier this month.   —>

Letter to Editor: Wired for arrogance
by Eric Bourassa
Boston Herald (MA)

Your editorial in favor of a bill to change the local cable franchising process implies that consumers suffer because telecommunications companies have a difficult time breaking into local markets (“House is hanging it up,” July 2). But nothing prevents companies like Verizon from signing identical contracts that existing providers have already negotiated with cities and towns. Verizon does not want to adhere to consumer protections, like anti-redlining provisions that require the provider to offer service to everyone in town no matter their income demographic. This bill is the epitome of special interest legislation and should be rejected by the Legislature.
Eric Bourassa, Consumer Advocate Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group

New Bedford Cable Access wins national competition
South Coast Today (MA)

NEW BEDFORD — New Bedford Cable Access was named the winner of the 2007 Hometown Video Award for “Overall Excellence in Public, Educational and Government Access” by the Alliance for Community Media… “The NBCA staff is committed to providing the finest quality public television to the residents of the city of New Bedford and I am pleased that they have been nationally recognized for their outstanding productions,” Mayor Scott W. Lang said. “New Bedford Cable Access is a great way for residents to stay connected with important government and education related activities and also is an outlet for community participation and communication.”   —>

College pals shoot public-access TV series about New Bedford twentysomethings
South Coast Today (MA)

—>  The miniseries is about “a group of kids in the ‘hood of New Bedford who are trying to avoid the violence in their city and better themselves through school and finding mentors,” Ms. Freitas said.  “We’re not focusing on violence, but that is a big problem in New Bedford. The group of friends all have to put up the front that they’re hard, but they have aspirations to better themselves, don’t want their kids living like they did.  “They’re finding a way out of the lives they lead every day, with a drug deal on the street or someone getting shot in their neighborhood.”

…RAB began filming the first of 11 episodes on Memorial Day weekend, and will hopes to air them this fall on Channel 17 public access in New Bedford. All the episodes will be shot exclusively in New Bedford.  “After that, we’re hopefully expanding to other local access channels,” Mr. Bartolome said.   —>

NCTV 17 Film Crew Rocks
World of Naperville Blog (IL)

Today I had the distinct pleasure to work with a crew from NCTV to film a quick interview regarding the World of Naperville BLOG. When most people think community access television, they think Wayne’s World from our neighbors to the west or really strange and uninteresting footage. We are very fortunate in Naperville to have a high quality community television station staffed by dedicated professionals who clearly have a great deal of passion for their craft. The production value and original programming are just two examples of what makes NCTV great. From what I gathered from our hard-working crew, much can be attributed to the vision of NCTV Executive Director Liz Spencer.

In a previous posting regarding the launch of NCTV online streaming a couple of months ago (see NCTV Finally Streams into this Naperville Home), I spoke of the heartbreak when we were forced to go with satellite TV over cable upon moving to Naperville.  The weekly NCTV programming schedules would taunt me as I could see there was plenty of interesting programming.  Despite the irony, I’m thrilled to have had the opportunity to talk about the World of Naperville on NCTV and I was truly impressed with the energy and professionalism of their staff and intern.

Once the segment airs, I will be posting a copy of the segment to the World of Naperville very soon.  If you would like to tune into NCTV this Friday (7/6) during the news you will see the segment.  In the meantime, my thanks to Halie, Lindsey and Jeff for their interest and coverage of the World of Naperville.  In the meantime, I’m pleased to plug an upcoming event at NCTV 17 studios this coming Tuesday (7/10) when they will preview their latest Naperville documentary film, entitled “A Role of Their Own”.  For more information visit the following link:

Former FCC Chair: iPhone Hindered By Network Limitations
Reed Hundt notes that the iPhone’s popularity underscores the need for ubiquitous high-speed wireless coverage in the United States.
by Richard Martin
Information Week

Comparing the newly released iPhone to a Ferrari forced to drive on dirt roads, former FCC chairman Reed Hundt today renewed his call for an nationwide open-access wireless broadband network that is independent — i.e., not under the control of the major wireless carriers.  Speaking to reporters on a teleconference call, Hundt, who is co-founder and vice chairman of Frontline Wireless LLC, one of the companies planning to bid in the upcoming auction of 700MHz spectrum, said that the iPhone’s huge popularity underscores the crying need for ubiquitous high-speed wireless coverage in the United States.

Pointing out that the iPhone works exclusively over AT&T’s wireless network — and that a mandatory two-year contract at $60 a month will end up costing more than three times the price of the device itself — Hundt said, “No other consumer appliance in America comes bundled with mandatory service, at a price three times that of the device.”  The iPhone runs over AT&T’s EDGE network, which is considered “2.5G” and offers data speeds of around 100-140 Kbit/s. The national network Frontline is proposing would offer speeds 12 times that fast, according to Hundt.    —>

iPhone Frenzy Points To The Future Of News
by Piers Fawkes

Jeff Jarvis has an interesting observation about the large volume of public-generated content around the iPhone launch. He says that unfulfilled by what’s being transmitted through regular media channels, people went out there, covered the event themselves then put it on the new media channels they’re already using to share content and information:

“Something significant happened in the coverage of the otherwise insignificant and comically unnecessary lines that formed outside Apple stores waiting to get the iPhone:  The event was covered live, in video, directly to the internet and to the public, by the people in the story, without news organizations.  That is a big deal: the start of live, video witness-reporting. Scoble did it. More than one of’s folks did it. So did and Diggnation and the gadget blogs and more than I can list.  Not to mention, of course, all the reporting that went on via Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, blogs. . . .

“As I said in that post, this necessarily changes the relationship of witnesses to news and news organizations. When it is live, producers don’t have time to edit, package, vet and all the things that news organizations have always done. They can’t intermediate. All that news organization can do is choose to link or not link to what we, the witnesses, are feeding, as the news happens. The news is direct, from witness to the world.”   —>

Thinking about media as a platform
by Matt McAlister
Matt McAlister

Back in my InfoWorld days (2004-ish?) I somehow woke up to the idea that media could be a platform.1 Whereas my professional media experience prior to that was all about creating user experiences that resulted in better page views and conversions, something changed in the way I perceived how online media was supposed to work.  I didn’t have language to use for it at the time (still working on it, actually), but I knew it wasn’t inspired by the “openness” and “walled garden” metaphors so much. Neither concept reflected the opportunity for me. Once I saw the opportunity, though, the shift happening in online media seemed much much bigger.

In a presentation at the Bioneers conference back in August 2000 (below), architect William McDonough talked about designing systems that leverage nature’s strengths for mutually beneficial growth rather than for conservation or merely sustainability.  He tells us to design with positive results in mind instead of using less bad materials,

Similarly, the implications around the “openness” and “walled garden” concepts get clouded by the tactical impressions those words draw for someone who has unique assets in the media business.  It’s not about stopping bad behavior or even embracing good behavior. It’s about investing in an architecture that promotes growth for an entire ecosystem. If you do it right, you will watch network effects take hold naturally. And then everyone wins.   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Dir., Information & Organizing Services
Alliance for Community Media

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 07/02/07

July 2, 2007

[ Ordinarily “Clippings” is just that – excerpts with links. Today’s post only has three items, two of which bear including in their entirety. First is Ron Cox’s Letter to the Editor of the Malden Observer. I know Ron won’t mind your reading it here in full. Last is a fairly detailed post regarding the Knight Foundation’s 2007 “News Challenge” grants – clearly Knight too wants to get the word out as much as possible. rm ]

Letter: Don’t be fooled by Verizon propaganda
by Ron Cox
Malden Observer (MA)

To the editor:

I am writing in response to a letter written by Jack T. Yunits in the June 22 Malden Observer that was, in fact, a response to my column “Keep it Local” dated June 15.

I found it amusing that Mr. Yunits, the former mayor of Brockton, criticized my article for being “totally biased,” when in fact he is now working for the Massachusetts Consumers for Technology and Cable Choice – an acknowledged Verizon lobbying group. And, he isn’t just an ordinary lobbyist; he is their president, whose job is to speak the propaganda of the company line, which is to support this misguided Bill S1975/H3385.

Why are so many former elected officials becoming lobbyists for major companies? Maybe it’s because once they learn the ropes of state government, they see the advantage in getting paid to sway their former colleagues and other government leaders rather than run every two or four years themselves. Running for office is hard work and it costs money. Why not just make money working for giant corporations?
But back to Mr. Yunits’s letter.

He talked about the consumer benefits of a competitive cable television market, and stated that most of Massachusetts doesn’t have competition. That statement is essentially not true.

Since the late 1980s, cable companies have been invited to every community in the state – but it has only been recently that some towns and cities have received that second or third cable provider. Why? Because it has taken several years for these cable providers to build their infrastructure.

It is not because the cities and towns don’t want them. In fact, the towns and cities have been begging for them to enter into competition. The reality is while Verizon has gone into many of these municipalities and built their FIOS network, they have yet to enter into negotiations with those cities and towns.

Just ask Somerville’s Mayor Joe Curtatone. He and the mayor of Boston are both ready to sit down with Verizon and negotiate, but they have yet to even respond to a request for a proposal. What are they waiting for? Could it be that they have a chance to change the process and get a better deal for themselves by passing this bill?

The question is not whether there is competition, it’s why isn’t Verizon joining the other cable companies in competing on the same level. Both Comcast and RCN have no problem negotiating with the rules now in place. Communities such as Wakefield and Woburn have three providers, and competition is just fine.

The fact is, Verizon wants to spread disinformation so that they look like a “friend to the consumer” when the reality is they are looking out for their own self-interest. When Mr. Yunits spoke of negotiations taking 12 months to two years, look up the facts; most communities have taken seven to nine months to get perfectly good consumer-friendly contracts that have benefited their city or town.

Don’t be fooled by Verizon propaganda. Talk with residents from other communities, especially in Texas where my brother lives. Verizon was able to pass a statewide franchise bill there, and ever since cable bills by all the providers have gone up – not down.

Keep it real. Keep it local.
Ron Cox, Executive Director, MATV

WIPO broadcast treaty defeated by web activists
Copyright add-on fails to find consensus
The Register

A controversial new intellectual property right due to be created by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) has been successfully opposed by a coalition of web activists and the technology industry. WIPO has spent nearly 10 years gathering international agreement over a new deal for broadcasters which would give them intellectual property rights over broadcasts which would exist in addition to existing copyright laws.

But a campaign spearheaded by activist groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), and involving thousands of podcasters and bloggers, joined with technology industry giants such as Intel and defeated the move last week. —>

Knight News Challenge 2007: unofficial guide for applicants
by Dave Domingo
Digital Utopia

Starting today, and until October 15, media innovators have a second chance to submit their projects to the Knight Foundation up-to-5-million-dollar News Challenge grants. “Before you apply, study last year’s winners”, the organizers recommend. A good resource is the fantastic series of interviews by E-Media Tidbits. But I found difficult to get the big picture, so here are the facts in a nutshell:

Criteria. In the 2006 edition, 1,650 applications where received and only 25 were selected, the grants ranging between $15.000 and $5 million. Gary Kebbel, one of the persons directly involved in the selection process, explained to Tidbits editor Amy Grahran that they were looking for projects which:

* Involved innovative uses of digital media
* Would help to build, bind or create a sense of community
* Focused on a specific geographic area
* Would make the results of their work available to all: free, open source, with open standards.
* Offered the broadest appeal and greatest replicability, and projects that will continue to grow and take on a life of their own.

Profiles. Most of the winners of the first edition are veteran activists and researchers in online media, but there is also a 20-year-old Information Systems graduate student. Even though profiles are hybrid in many cases, academics and activists are the ones involved in most of the winning projects:
9 were led by universities
7 by citizen media activists
3 by professional journalists
3 by software developers
2 by consultants
Only one mainstream media company (MTV) was awarded last year. For the 2007 edition, Kebbel suggested they wanted more “young people and more international applications”.

Content. The official categories for the News Challenge projects are Ideas, Pilot projects, Leadership projects, and Commercial products. Regardless of this, I feel that 2006 grant winners can be organized into five different kinds of projects: framework projects (6) aiming to be incubators of actual citizen media projects; software development projects (7), mainly in the areas of information mapping and content management; reporting projects (5), focused in citizen journalists’ training; games-as-news projects (3), exploring playful ways for storytelling; and other projects (4) ranging from citizen-media law databases to exploring new newsroom models. Here is a list of the projects based on these categories (I will be adding links to the projects websites as they become available):

* Framework projects: This projects are meant to foster new developments in citizen media software and strategies. Many seek to make journalism and programming students meet to create new applications.
o MIT’s Center for Future Civic Media.
o Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University journalism scholarships for programmers.
o Arizona State University’s Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship, at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
o Innovation Incubators Project, by seven US academic institutions, led by Park School of Communication at Ithaca College.
o Global Voices’ program to foster activist bloggers in developing countries.
o Steven Clift’s Ideas Factory.

* Software development: The first four projects are related to mapping information to make it more easy to access by citizens, relating it to specific locations.
o Adrian Holovaty’s Every Block, a public databases visualization tool inspired in his previous project
o Placeblogger, proposing an universal geotagging standard.
o Dan Schultz, works on a GPS-based news management system.
o Paul Lamb and Leslie Rule develop a GPS tracking system to tailor information for mobile users.

The rest of the projects in this category are focused in content management tools for citizen media.
o Village Soup will create an open-source version of their citizen media sites content management system.
o Benjamin Melançon is developing a Drupal module called Related items.
o JD Lasica’s blog Social Media will follow and analyze innovations in community media software.

* Reporting projects: These are mainly devoted to develop training for citizen journalists.
o MTV will fund youngsters to cover the US presidential campaign
o The Chicago citizen news site Chi-Town Daily News will train 75 neighborhood reporters.
o The Media Mobilizing Project by Indymedia Philadephia will train 40 immigrants to do video reports.
o Boulder Carbon Tax Tracker, a weblog fostering the debate between experts, public officers and citizens on this local issue.
o Jay Rosen will be blogging about how beat reporters can work with social networks to improve their reporting.

* Games as news: These projects explore gaming as a new way to explain news.
o The Gotham Gazette, a citizen news site in New York, will produce “news games” to engage their readers and help them understand local policy decision-making.
o The Institute for New Media Studies at the University of Minnesota will create prototypes that will let journalists develop game-like scenarios for community issues.
o Paul Grabowicz, at the University of California, will create a video game recreating the Oakland jazz and blues club era.

* Other projects:
o Citizen Media Law Project, at Harvard University, provides legal information and advice to citizen journalists.
o The Duke Chronicle, student run newspaper at Duke University, will explore new newsroom configurations for a digital converged environment.
o Dori Maynard will blog about creating and maintaining diversity in digital media.
o G. Patton Hughes will blog about making his hyperlocal web site,, a financial success.

Applications. The 2007 applicants must register before filling in the forms with their project data. This year you can make your project idea public in the News Challenge site and have feedback from other registered users to improve the project if you submit it early enough. Users will be able to rate the projects, therefore helping to the final decision of the Knight Foundation. Look forward to the list of public projects in the following weeks. Be inspired and inspiring, check the official FAQ for common doubts and… good luck!

compiled by Rob McCausland
Dir., Information & Organizing Services
Alliance for Community Media

FCC’s Public Hearing on Localism in Portland, Maine – 06/28/07

July 2, 2007

Local media and the FCC
by Dan Kennedy
Media Nation

As an issue, corporate media consolidation is important and interesting. As the subject of a seven-hour hearing before the Federal Communications Commission — eh, not so much. Thus it was with some trepidation that I headed to Portland, Maine, Thursday for the latest in a series of FCC hearings on local content in the broadcast media.

The hearings have their roots in a 2003 ruling by the FCC — then chaired by the deregulation-obsessed Michael Powell — to remove what few restraints on media ownership were still in effect. The most significant changes Powell wanted to make would have allowed a single corporation to own television stations reaching 45 percent of the national market, up from 35 percent; and permitted a company to own a daily newspaper and a television or radio station in the same market, an arrangement known as “cross-ownership.”

To the amazement of long-embattled media reformers, Powell’s proposal sparked a public outcry, and the scheme was stopped dead in its tracks by both Congress and the courts. (Actually, the national-audience cap was raised to 39 percent, which just happened to coincide with the reach of Rupert Muroch’s television stations.) The localism hearings — one of a series of six — are intended as an information-gathering exercise before the FCC considers ownership regulations once again.

Thursday’s hearing, attended by several hundred people in the Portland High School auditorium, was a gargantuan exercise in public discussion. The commissioners spoke. Politicians or their stand-ins spoke. There was a 12-member afternoon panel and an 11-member evening panel. Anyone who wished could sign up to deliver a two-minute statement; the list had reached 142 the last time I looked. Gregory Kesich’s account in the Portland Press Herald hits the highlights, which is as good as you can expect in covering such an unwieldy event.   —>

Mainers have say on media outlets
At an FCC hearing, radio and TV employees defend their public service record, while others are skeptical
by Gregory D. Kesich
Portland Press Herald (ME)

Mainers were asked to speak for the country about news media performance Thursday night when the Federal Communications Commission held a rare public hearing at Portland High School.  The federal agency that licenses television and radio stations is gathering views on how local media perform their public service obligation in an era when more outlets are owned by out-of-state corporations. Public comment will be used to shape proposed policy changes that could further relax or restrict ownership arrangements.  Thursday’s hearing was attended by several hundred people, 150 of whom signed up to make two-minute statements to the commissioners.   —>

Broadcasters lose grip on local news
Radio and television stations in Maine do plenty of good works, but their core mission should be journalism
Portland Press Herald (ME)
by Ryan Blethen

Localism, like many isms, means different things to different  people. This was apparent Thursday night in the auditorium of a Maine high school.   The Federal Communications Commission held a hearing at  Portland High School to find out what the public thought of how well broadcasters are serving their community. If the two  Republican and two Democratic commissioners were not listening closely, they heard a mixed message.

Maine’s broadcasters did a fantastic job getting their employees, station managers, and charitable organizations to testify to their hyper-local identities. The other half of the nearly 200 people who drifted in and out of the auditorium were clearly disgusted  with the local offerings on the airwaves.   —>

FCC has hearing as state promotes rural broadband
Sun Journal (ME)

PORTLAND (AP) – The Federal Communications Commission opened a seven-hour hearing Thursday to obtain public input on how broadcasters are fulfilling their public service responsibilities at a time when most local media has come under out-of-state ownership.  The hearing at Portland High School provided members of the public with a rare opportunity to offer feedback to the agency that regulates the broadcast industry.

Four of the five commissioners attended the hearing on localism, with two expressing concerns in prepared opening remarks about a loss of public interest protections arising from such changes as loosened ownership restrictions and a “rubber-stamp” license renewal process.  The selection of Portland as one of six cities to have a hearing before the full commission was sought by Sen. Olympia Snowe, a member of the Senate Commerce Commission that has oversight over broadcasting issues.   —>

Portland Speaks Out for Local Media, Against Consolidation
Hundreds Turn Out for First FCC Hearing on Localism Since 2004
Maine Today

PORTLAND, Maine — More than 200 people attended an official Federal Communications Commission hearing on localism Thursday, packing into the Portland High School auditorium to express their frustration with the dwindling number of locally owned radio and television stations.   —>

Industry, Public Get Vocal About Local
Broadcast Newsroom

A current broadcaster and ex-broadcaster provided very different views of the state of localism at a Portland, Me., hearing Thursday.   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Dir., Information & Organizing Services
Alliance for Community Media

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 07/01/07

July 1, 2007

Law sets new standards for cable operators
by Ray Long
Chicago Tribune (IL)

SPRINGFIELD — Consumers may see more competitive cable TV rates and better service under a set of standards signed into law Saturday by Gov. Rod Blagojevich.   —>,1,995787.story?coll=chi-news-hed&ctrack=1&cset=true

Cable competition is coming
Associated Press
Daily Herald (IL)

SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed a law Saturday that advocates hope will make Illinois a national leader in opening cable television markets to competition.   —>

Supporters say new Ohio law will spur cable TV competition
by Stephen Majors (AP)
Beacon Journal (OH)

COLUMBUS, Ohio – A bill signed into law last week by Gov. Ted Strickland is designed to spur competition among cable television providers, leading to lower prices.  Q: Who will have authority to regulate cable franchises?   —>

High Quality Public Affairs T.V. and Radio Programming Available from the Massachusetts School of Law

The Massachusetts School of Law has added a new public affairs program to its already extensive lineup of high quality radio and television programs. The new show, titled, “What the Media Doesn’t Tell You,” began May 12 and is hosted by MSLAW Dean and Cofounder Lawrence Velvel. “The show aims to generate discussion on vital issues not receiving the coverage they deserve, explains why the media does what it does, and the ramifications for American democracy,” Velvel said. Topics to date have included, Could 9/11 Have Been Foreseen?, The Price of Gasoline, The New York Times and the NSA Case, and Why We Have Such Poor Quality People as Politicians.

In addition to affiliate U.S. AM and FM radio stations that will air the program, the MSLAW discussion show can also be heard via the World Radio Network. WRN broadcasts on Sirius Satellite Radio in the U.S. and Canada on Channel 140, SKY Digital Channel 122 in the U.K. and Ireland, via podcasts, and via the “On the Media” streaming audio channel of

The podcast URL for” What the Media Doesn’t Tell” You is The podcast URL for all other programs is Previous installments of the television programs are available on Google Video.

Throw in TV studio; maybe we can talk
Orlando Sentinel (FL)

As reported a few days ago, a plan from developer Marc Watson includes a basketball arena, retractable-dome baseball stadium and grand prix-style racetrack down by the Orange County Convention Center.  Supporters of the plan to build a new arena, performing-arts center and upgraded Citrus Bowl downtown fret that Watson’s plan could complicate efforts to get a green light from Orange County commissioners. But Watson says that is not his intent.

Still, Watson is a smart businessman. It might not be a coincidence that preliminary site plans for his Orange Megaplex next to the Convention Center include another facility that nobody but a county commissioner would care about: a rather large studio for Orange TV, the county’s government-access cable channel.,0,6073280.story

compiled by Rob McCausland
Dir., Information & Organizing Services
Alliance for Community Media