Media democracy is not a lofty ideal or vague catch phrase.
Most readers are aware that Chicago community media provider CAN TV is a valuable communications resource with great potential. And some of you have heard through independent channels of the labor unrest at CAN TV that resulted in a union contract and the exit of some of its overpaid managers. But, sadly, CAN TV remains, at its core, an undemocratic organization.
Please click here to read more and sign a petition to give voting control of CAN TV to its individual and non-profit organization volunteer members and donors. That is, unless you think that one of Chicago's few media avenues with substantive and continuing funding for independent information, perspectives, and culture should be abandoned to the will of a few self-selecting, establishment-connected board trustees.
Please click here to read more and sign the petition.
The more petition signatures gathered before the CAN TV board of trustees meeting on Wednesday December 14th, the better!
Please distribute this via social media and email.
You can find independent media coverage of the unionization of the CAN TV staff here, here, and here.
Some people remain stubbornly reality-based and may want to read, watch and listen to informational materials in order to better understand something. So for these troublemakers, here are some links to information that shows clearly, in the aggregate, why weâ€™d better expand and more broadly define community media in an age of broadband, runaway media ownership consolidation, and shrinking newspaper ad revenue.
PhillyCam's WPPM at 106.5FM
Multimedia community media centers are proliferating
I recently spoke with Mike Wassenaar, the head of the peg access advocacy group Alliance for Community Media, and he pointed out that there are about fifty community television centers in the U.S. that also have a low power fm community radio license. Here are links to a few of them: PhillyCam's WPPM at 106.5FM (pictured above), a short overview of Grand Rapids Community Media Center (which has a full power radio station) and a link to its homepage, info about Davis Media Access in Davis CA, Dakota Media Access, Rochester Community Media Center, Arlington Independent Media, Boston Neighborhood Network, and Tucson CMC. For an excellent discussion of multimedia community media facilities, check out the event description of this 2011 panel discussion "Community Media: A Full Spectrum Future"; for really depressing statistics about the gutting of newsrooms, go to Steven Waldman at 6:40 to 14:30. Here is a link courtesy of the ACM to a 2016 panel discussion featuring spokespersons for community media facilities offering both community tv and lpfm.
Communities need information but independent investigative journalists need to eat
Research studies: The 2002 study by the Future of Music Coalition "Radio Deregulation: Has it Served Musicians and Citizens?" illuminates the extremely negative effects released by the radical deregulation of the Clinton Telecommunications Act of 1996 upon ownership concentration, format and program diversity, news, ad clutter, and the ability of artists to get on the radio. This study helped lead to the signing of the Local Community Radio Act in 2011 which created hundreds of new low power fm stations. The groundbreaking 2011 FCC study "The Information Needs of Communities" highlights the key (but underfunded) role community media must play in filling in the major gaps caused by the staff cuts and bankruptcies at our daily newspapers as internet advertising dimes replace print advertising dollars. Via reports like "State of the News Media Report 2016", the Pew Research Center breaks things down for each news medium annually. The 2007 Benton Foundation study "What's Going On in Community Media?" expertly details models of facilities evolving to adapt to the new media landscape in order to better help solve community problems.
(added 11/17/2016) More links examining the generally miserable state of sustainable funding for investigative and accountability journalism
More info has been brought to my attention by a squad of communications and journalism educators I am friends with: Steve Macek, Professor at North Central College reminds us of McChesney and Nichols' book "The Death and Life of Great American Newspapers" (2009) which covers a lot of facts about the loss of local journalism jobs. Andrew Kennis, Assistant Professor of Journalism at The University of Texas at El Paso provides the following -- Local Journalism: The Decline of Newspapers and the Rise of Digital Media (2015) published by the Reuters Institute at Oxford University; Less of the Same: The Lack of Local News on the Internet by Matthew Hindman, GWU; Less of Less FCC-commissioned report finds a "surprisingly small audience for local news traffic" Nieman Lab, 2011; Low Power to the People: Pirates, Protest, and Politics in FM Radio Activism MIT Press, 2014 - a book review by its author.
Media Justice, OWS, and Access: Who Gets to Speak?
James Owens at UMass Amherst provided some identity and activist oriented links that are also part of this discussion: Media Justice: Out of the Margins Cyril, M., Schmeider, K. - Extra!, 2009 "Access to media is difficult when â€śyouâ€™re poor, a person of color, a woman or queer: itâ€™s harder when youâ€™re living in an isolated rural community or a segregated and policed urban neighborhood"; Media Justice and the 99 Percent Movement by Betty Yu - Extra!, 2011 As the OWS Declaration in New York City put it, the 1 percent â€śpurposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.â€ťBut grassroots, independent media outlets like Democracy Now!, Pacifica Radio, the Indypendent newspapers and public access TV channels, with a combined audience of millions, covered the Occupation from the perspective of the peopleâ€”the 99 percent. Grassroots Perspectives on Media Justice Organizing Davies, L. Radical History Review, 2013 Building a National Media Justice Movement:â€¨ An Interview with Betty Yu, Membership Organizer, Media Action Grassroots Network, the Center for Media Justice; The Black Voice is in Jeopardy by Malkia Cyril - Extra!, 2014 While Malkia recognizes the power of Twitter, she fails to accept that this power on its own would change societyâ€™s perspective on Blackâ€™s peopleâ€™s anger against police brutality; Occupyâ€™s Precarious Pluralism: A study of the purposes, identities, and politics enabled by the NYC Occupy movement by James Owens, 2012 â€śProjects seeking to create spaces of communication and wage issue campaigns for healthcare and financial reform tended to emerge from alliances of wealthier, whiter, professional identified partners while non-professional partners from communities of color and low-income allied together to wage struggles for human rights, subsistence, and against foreclosures. . . . Rather than creating spaces to overcome differing interests, communication projects themselves appear to be expressions of particular interests; FAIR & Media Justice Goldstein, H., & Jackson, J. - Extra!, 2009 Who gets to speak? More inclusive and democratic media is â€śpart of the bigger, longer fight for real social and economic justiceâ€ť.
Dear activist / artist / educator / friend,
Registration is now closed for the CAN TV open house tomorrow Thursday November 10th 3:00 PM - 6:30 PM at 1309 S. Wood Street. The event will help mark the first year of CAN TV's facilitation of community media at the awesome new, permanent, expandable, multi-use digs it has constructed in the U of I medical district. But we will definitely keep in touch with you on related community media issues.
There has been much recent turbulence and change at Chicago's community television provider CAN TV including a successful and necessary unionization of the staff and the unanticipated departure of its top executives. But we have learned that important work remains on necessary changes to CAN TV's bylaws to ensure that it has a democratically accountable board of trustees as it seeks new leadership so that it does not repeat the mistakes of its past. And there's a LOT more at stake: CAN TV is being offered control of a brand new community radio license and station at 98.3 FM that can be live streamed and put on Chicago cable channel 42, a paid & volunteer multi-media, multi-platform, independent journalism program in partnership with leading local journalism instructors, more arts and cultural programming, more education for media consumers, and just . . . more!
When it rains it pours!
We encourage you to contact CAN TV and ask it to fix its anti-democratic bylaws and accept the gift of a radio station license and support the journalism and other programs listed above.
Various turns of events have brought community media, independent journalism, and public arts to a rare juncture that can benefit the entire Chicago region. Who said it is impossible to respond to the anti-democratic monocultural consequences of billion dollar corporate media and oligarchy? Help make CAN TV even better!
We will be at the open house asking for truly community controlled media, along with representatives of WGHC-LPFM, Medill School of Journalism instructors, and others!
We hope you were able to reserve a spot at the open house, but we will keep those who could not attend informed of developments.
Scott Sanders, longtime local media justice activist
Christine Geovanis, well placed local political communications consultant
--->"CAN TV multi-use expansion proposal - 1 page summary"
photo of spanking new radio studio being offered to CAN TV
Link to a partial list of groups that received this communication in email form on 11/09/2016.
Linked here is a "pass through" communication, an invitation to you from CAN TV to attend its open house on Thursday November 10th and help celebrate the first year of its facilitation of community media at the awesome new, permanent digs it has constructed in the U of I medical district. Come to this free event and thank both executive director Barbara Popovic, who is stepping down at the end of the year after many years at the helm, and the staff for the incredible service and leadership they have provided as CAN TV looks toward the future.
Gazing forward, CMA is asking media activists to come to the open house with the following question:
Are a license for an FM community radio station that is also on channel 42 and streamed online 24/7, paid & volunteer multi-media multi-platform independent journalism, more arts and cultural programming, additional education for media consumers, & more, included in the trusted community media stalwart CAN TV's future?
You must make your support, needs, and ideas heard if you want Chicago's burgeoning community media funding to expand in these ways. Find out more about these proposals -- Register to attend the November 10th CAN TV open house. And share this email and CAN TV's invitation with your friends! See you there, along with representatives of WGHC-LPFM 98.3, Medill School of Journalism instructors, and others!
Who said it is impossible to respond to the anti-democratic monocultural consequences of billion dollar corporate media and oligarchy?
>>>Read CAN TV multi-use expansion proposal - 1 page summary for more info.
PLEASE FORWARD THIS COMMUNICATION ALONG TO INDIVIDUALS AND ORGANIZATIONS THAT YOU THINK WILL BENEFIT FROM IT.
_ _ _ _ _
This is a communication from Chicago Media Action, a Chicago activist group devoted to media issues.
http://www.chicagomediaaction.org/ | firstname.lastname@example.org | @ChiMediaAction
Did you know community media in Chicago has a new PERMANENT home? -- Register here to attend the CAN TV open house Thursday Nov 10th 3:00 - 6:30PM.
I was recently invited as a guest on the local Chicago TV show "26 N. Halsted", which airs on WCIU Channel 26. Here's the video of my appearance:
(Note: The video was recorded the week before the ruling affirming a full victory in the net neutrality wars.)
Among the topics discussed was a recent (probably ginned-up) controversy involving Facebook's purported suppression of conservative stories on its trending stories feed.
A few things: Yes, Facebook's newsfeed is powered by algorithms but that doesn't make it immune to bias, including unconscious biases by programmers. And it's no surprise considering the staggering number of decisions to consider in coding such a feed and the lack of transparency of that code and those decisions. Yes, Facebook's newsfeed is set up so that humans can override the outcomes of those algorithms, as leaked documents from Facebook make clear.
It appears that this whole affair is another instance of the phenomenon of working the refs — "Asked by the Washington Post (8/20) about Republican complaints about the media, Republican national chair Rich Bond helpfully explained: 'There is some strategy to it. I’m the coach of kids’ basketball and Little League teams. If you watch any great coach, what they do is work the refs. Maybe the ref will cut you a little slack next time.'"
The outsized influence (for the time being) by right-wing forces suggests this may be a playing out for the umpteenth time on precisely this theme: intimidating outlets, now in the digital sphere, on charges of bias in the hopes that they'll give you sympathetic coverage (or any coverage). For those of us involved in grassroots activism on this side of the political fence, where coverage is the oxygen of activist campaigns and take a LONG time to build up to a critical mass, there's little comparison.