Community Media: Selected Clippings – 08/09/07

There are some longer than usual excerpts this post – with fair reason. For one, there’s an absolutely poetic tribute to the value of municipal meeting coverage from Beaufort, SC. Then there’s the important announcement regarding archiving the public’s media. But there’s also this:

In last Sunday’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Adrian McCoy wrote two feature pieces about PEG access television – clipped here Monday. McCoy quoted some apparently dated comments from citizen-media maven Dan Gillmor, to the effect that US PEG access facilities should give up their current cable channels in exchange for dollars to support web-training and distribution.

Though McCoy’s treatment of this topic was more balanced than many, it still resulted in a flurry of posts on the ACM’s listservs – most denouncing Gillmor’s comments. Tonight’s “Clippings” contains two stories which taken together suggest, I hope, a transcendence of this distracting and stupid debate, ‘YouTube vs. Access TV’, ‘cable vs. web.’

First, kind readers, consider the story below of the Bulgarian bloggers, so successful in rallying public opinion against the state’s anti-environmental policies that the police tried to shut them down. None of us should question the humanistic value and necessity of internet-based communications – in the US no less than in the rest of the world.

But in tandem with this, consider Steve Safran’s notes on the unhelpful “versus” frame so commonly seen in the press. “Access TV vs. YouTube” is just one more ready-made conflict-laden duality, prepped and promulgated by lazy thinkers, eagerly encouraged and abetted by those who would certainly benefit from our lazy thinking.

Community media advocates would be well advised to consider Safran’s cautions regarding such distractions: “The more tools we keep giving journalism, the more journalists keep arguing over the tools. What they don’t see is the toolbox.” – rm

From: Lee Mandell
To: The nclgisa mailing list
Subject: [nclgisa] Some PEG Channel/Video Programming Good News (NC)

Here are three pieces of good news on the Video Programming/PEG Channel front.. While modest, these are all positive developments. Thanks to all who worked to make them happen.
_Lee M. Mandell, Ph.D., Director of IT and Research/CIO, NC League of Municipalities

Root Out Corruption, Give Cable TV a New Beginning in Hawaii
Open Letter to Gov. Linda Lingle
by Sean McLaughlin
Hawaii Reporter

I am writing regarding the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ (DCCA) handling of the local franchise requirement for Time Warner to set aside channel capacity for local community use. ( Note the latest action in a sad series). —>

RFP for the American Archive
Television Archiving: Online Video and the Future of Broadcasting

This is now on the fast track:

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (”CPB”) is hereby announcing a Request for Proposals (”RFP”) to secure an entity or individual to manage the American Archive 1.0 initiative in accordance with the information and guidelines published below.

American Archive 1.0 will serve the American public by preserving, exhibiting, and sharing the enduring programming produced and distributed by the public broadcasting system. The Archive will make use of emerging technologies to allow access to this content by educational and cultural institutions, public broadcasting stations, and the general public.

CPB seeks an Initiative Manager to consult with key stakeholders within the public broadcasting system to determine and build consensus for the overall purpose of American Archive 1.0. Tactically, the Initiative Manager will consult with experts within and without the public broadcasting system to develop a blueprint for the implementation of American Archive 1.0.

The big challenge (and expense) will be (re)clearing the materials that have been produced, often at public expense, over the last five decades.

Part One: Defending online free speech and environmental rights in Bulgaria
by Sami Ben Gharbia
Global Voices Online

—> The response of the Bulgarian environmental stakeholders to this threat against the natural ecosystem of Strandzha Mountain was quick and well-coordinated. Utilizing every method from blog posts to street blockades to SMS to flash mobs, the web-led movement has succeeded in stimulating significant offline activity. “All information was disseminated mainly through mailing lists, SMS-s and on-line,” said BlueLink Information Network executive director Milena Bokova, whom I spoke with about the issue.

With its smart use of the Internet and new media appplications such as online petitions (more than 13.900 signatures addressed to Bulgarian Administrative Court were collected – see the petition in English), blogs, and video- and photo-sharing sites, the Bulgarian environmental movement mobilized a substantial demonstration for the protection of the Strandzha Park, and won sympathy for its case….

As a result of the attention, Bulgarian police issued a call to bloggers, pressuring them “to stop writing about the recent wave of environmental protests that has swept across the country in the recent weeks.” One blogger summoned by the National Service for Combat against Organized Crime was Michel Bozgounov, BlueLink’s web designer, who reported the incident on his blog…

The outpouring of support from the Bulgarian blogsphere for fellow blogger Michel Bozgounov was also overwhelming. A group of bloggers sent a letter of protest to the European Commissioner of Human Rights, urging him “to take all necessary measures […] for preventing the Bulgarian Ministry of Interior Affairs and The Bulgarian Government in stepping up to this extremely dangerous path on combating free speech.” —>

How ‘vs.’ thinking drags everyone down
by Steve Safran
Lost Remote

Television vs. newspapers. Blogs vs. news. The web vs. print. VJs vs. photogs. You can find tons of “vs.” at every journalism conference, in every media boardroom, and indeed on every media blog. The “vs.” supposes that there are two choices, and it is the notion that we need a “vs.” that is one of the biggest reasons why traditional media and new media aren’t performing nearly as well as they could.

“Vs.” thinking is what’s often worst about TV news. We’re constantly subjected to the obligatory “the right says this, the left says this” kinds of reports that are then allegedly balanced. News and media are stuck in “vs.” thinking in our own industry.

For years, there was this snobbery that newspaper journalists looked down on TV journalists for being too shallow. TV journalists didn’t care – they got the news on faster than a newspaper could. It was “speed vs. depth.”

Now, with the web, that “vs.” goes away. And newspapers are producing their own video reports. The truth is, most of those reports aren’t of the same caliber as those you’d find on TV. At least – that’s what the TV people will say, because that’s the New Snobbery: nobody can do TV like we can. That’s fine – except the web is not TV. And some newspapers now have dozens of cameras on the streets. Their time to publication is no longer an issue. Can they go live? No. Not yet, anyway. But they now present a formidable offering: in-depth written stories, video from the scene, pictures, multimedia presentations and social features like comments and voting are all available at some newspaper sites.

(It’s at this point that we need to stop calling that a “newspaper” site at all. Newspaper vs. TV sites is another “vs.” that has to go. They’re all websites to the user.)

So many digital trees have died on the topic of videojournalists. And 99% of the debate is this: “That’s not professional video work!” “Yes it is!” Truly – this defines the debate for so many people who look at VJs. Instead, take away the professionals vs. the VJs and look at the real question at the center of this change: how to we find the people most qualified to tell a story quickly and accurately, and how do we arm them with the right tools to do so? Instead of a “vs.” you find an “and,” as in “sometimes it’s with a single camera, sometimes it’s with a crew, sometimes we need a chopper, and sometimes the video someone sent in from their cellphone gets it done.”

The more tools we keep giving journalism, the more journalists keep arguing over the tools. What they don’t see is the toolbox. —>

Tune in to government for ‘rest of the story’
Beaufort Gazette (SC)

An on-demand public access cable channel that broadcasts esoteric government committee meetings might not rival C-SPAN for volume of viewers, but it could for entertainment value. Soon Hargray digital cable subscribers will be able to watch Beaufort County Council meetings as part of the communication company’s video-on-demand system. Hargray cable subscribers will be able to use the remote control device to review a menu of meetings, interviews and other content.

Such a system has tremendous potential for the county and for viewers, and other governments should develop a similar system. Viewers will be able to listen to an unfettered discussion of committee, subcommittee and County Council meetings without being filtered through a reporter’s eyes or the eyes of a public information officer. The viewer gets “the rest of the story,” as Paul Harvey would say.

On the other hand, a reporter’s listening and writing skills can come in handy. “The rest of the story” can be often amusing but pretty boring and sometimes arduous to sit through. Among the many benefits of such programming is that viewers can see the entire context in which government officials discuss an issue, and they also can see the body language and language inflection of a speaker.

A Hargray spokesman pointed out in a Gazette story that the company was providing this service to the county free. Of course, the company is, but it also is providing the “public service” commitment that companies are required to administer through a public access channel. This one just happens to be enhanced by on-demand access and the willingness of the county to provide quality cameras and audio equipment, a control room and an operator.

The major drawback to the plan is that right now a viewer would have to subscribe to Hargray to take advantage of the programming. It is a good sales tool for the company, but people in all areas of the county might want to cure their insomnia by tuning into a County Council Finance Committee meeting at 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. Other cable companies should take advantage of this programming opportunity or they might just find people switching channels — literally. —>

Is this the future of local Community Television?
Drraig Goch Blog (UK)

BBC TV’s Newsnight recently looked into an experiment going on in Belgium into people producing their own local tv programmes for broadcast to their own area ( I guess a bit like the local public access tv in the US). Using this system those wishing to watch your tv channel’s content have to ask permission to view an interesting EU take on local tv channels link.

Public voice concern over IPTV quality
by Melissa Chua
Computerworld Singapore

In late July, SingTel launched its IPTV (Internet protocol television) service, breaking the monopoly StarHub had in the pay-TV market. But users in Singapore are questioning the reliability of SingTel’s new offering in light of recent problems experienced on its all-in-one broadband platform. —>

More channels, better digs coming to cable access
by Bryan Mahoney
Lexington Minuteman (MA)

It won’t be long before you will see not one cable access channel in Lexington, but three. LexMedia, the town’s public-access cable station, will branch out into three separate channels beginning in January 2008. The promise of more programming also features a brand-new facility to be housed at the Avalon Bay apartment complex. —>

Local talk radio gets 2nd wind
by Charles Winokoor
Taunton Daily Gazette (MA)

The bad news is WPEP 1570 AM, Taunton’s homegrown radio station since 1949, is no more. The good news is that its local programming will continue unabated a little further down the dial. —>

Volunteer opportunities
Sign on San Diego – Union Tribune (CA)

Del Mar TV: Produce TV programs and video projects by volunteering for the producers’ group. Completion of classes required. Internships for college or high school credit available. Location: 240 10th St. (858) 755-3268, (858) 481-2882 or ENCINITAS

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

Explore posts in the same categories: archive, broadband policy, cable vs telco, community radio, free speech, internet censorship, IPTV, municipal broadband, municipal programming, PEG access TV, public access television, video franchising

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