Working Together to Shape the Media
Opportunities for groups concerned with democracy, equity, culture, technology and communication
CIMA: Center for International Media ActionFebruary 2011
There’s a lot going on right now in the realm of media policy and infrastructure in the United States.Government initiatives, funding bubbles, nonprofit programs and community projects are buzzing aroundsuch topics as “digital public media”; “the future of media and information needs of communities”;“broadband adoption”; “arts and social change”; and “community radio.” At the same time, media outletsand nonprofits are reconfiguring in an economic downturn. Advocates and communities are responding withurgency to policy developments, business deals and grant opportunities affecting the development of theinternet, journalism, culture and communication.Efforts to increase equity and meet community needs may be urgent, but they are confronting deeplyentrenched, systemic problems and persistent historical trends. What does it look like to tackle immediatepolicy and activist campaigns while working for profound, time-consuming, long-term political, economic andcultural transformation?This brief report, “Working Together to Shape the Media,” brings together observations andrecommendations from dozens of organizers, nonprofit researchers, advocates, network-builders andfunders working at the intersection of media and social change.
There is a potentially powerful movement to develop communications, information, and culturalsystems that can advance democracy, equity, justice and the rights for all to have healthy, thrivingcommunities. Significant assets and strengths among existing organizations can be leveragedthrough strategic partnerships.
This collective potential is restricted when critical components of the movement remain under-resourced. National and regional organizations working for media in the public interest need toinvest in community-rooted partners who have the information, relationships, history and expertise toeffectively reveal community needs, generate innovation and implement solutions.
Urgent short-term activities need to be linked into a longer-term framework. Rapid-response, tacticalcoalitions and campaigns need to be paired with activities for sustaining and growing this movement.
Specific recommendations for funders and organizations
allocate budget lines for longer-range activities within short-term campaigns, events and projects
develop collaborative assessment tools, community research capacities and partnerships
resource “people’s scholarship” – knowledge, analysis and theory developed by practitioners
invest in cost-saving infrastructure shared across nonprofits
build capacity within community-rooted groups and under-resourced areas
integrate arts into policy development and social change work
This publication was developed by CIMA: Center for International Action, an organization that between 2003 and 2010focused on strategy-development and alliance-building support for groups concerned with equity and rights in mediaand communications policy. The research was conducted for CIMA’s internal planning; the summary report was writtento contribute to conversations among our allies and partners.
For more information on this report, contact Aliza Dichter, liza @ mhcable.com