Fred
Johnson
‐
NAMAC
Campaign
&
Policy
Institute
 December
6,
7
&
9,
2011


Discussion
Notes


Framing
Placed‐Based
Media
Arts,
Participatory
Media,

 Community
Media,
and
Alternative
Media
 For
Policy
Debate
 Assumptions


For over 60 years media arts, community media and participatory media have been key strategies in creating communications democracy around the world. The corporate media in the U.S. have gained such dominance that communities and residents are now politically at their mercy to an unprecedented degree. This situation is distorting our political discourse to such an extent that it is urgent that we preserve and extend community-based media as spaces of independent critique, resistance and production within our communities. The network media environment is global but its effects are local: there is no “global place.” Network culture is constructed, expressed and takes place in our cities and communities. We need a robust and diverse sector of democratic media culture in our communities in order to realize the democratic potential of the new networked media environment. Within many of our communities exists a sector of media practice that can serve as anchor institutions from which to grow a much more diverse and democratic network media culture: media arts, community media, on-line journalist, community cinema, participatory media and activist media practitioners etc. By “communities” we do not mean communities in the broad social sense of ‘social networks’, we mean specific geographic ‘places’ that are easily excluded from emerging communications networks. These place-based media organizations are unique and offer two crucial advantages as a community engages with the network forms of communications: • • The first is access, the unique power relationship and fundamental bias of a network culture is expressed in powerful tendencies of inclusion and exclusion. The second is the ability to acquire the skill sets and knowledge necessary to act effectively as citizens and workers. Community based media offer ample opportunity and experiences in acquiring these skills through their training programs, participatory editorial and management values, their collaborative approaches and commitments to diversity.

What other cultural organizations are better prepared to assist the people who are excluded “off network” onto the network, and into network culture? What other cultural institutions are better suited to shape the identities of the growing ranks of new media makers in our communities?

A
Difference
That
Makes
a
Difference


One of the unique features of a network society is the emergence of what Manuel Castells has characterized as a “mass self communication” production sector, and others have termed “non-

1

their efforts to develop public voices will find little meaning in terms of labor. literacy and aesthetic education.
2011
 market” or “non-proprietary” peer-to-peer production. (3) community building. and independent documentary makers of previous decades. (2) the ‘set aside’ of spectrum and bandwidth. professional or legal frameworks that give any real social meaning to these individual actions. public verses private ownership.
7
&
9. Sadly. non-proprietary. and media made in the legal and political framework of place-based media organizations with a social mission? What is the relative importance to democratic development of geographically sited. in contrast to virtual/cloud style organizations? 2 . public media institutions that give social meaning to the actions of emerging media makers. as “cyber-journalists. Increasing numbers of people are being encouraged to see themselves as unpaid “hyper-local” volunteer journalist.Fred
Johnson
‐
NAMAC
Campaign
&
Policy
Institute
 December
6. community media and participatory media are defined by their democratic practices and are not the same as local media. as “hackers. All Community Media carry out the mission of empowering citizens and communities through key activities and strategies: (1) access to distribution and production tools. The
Key
Question
for
Entering
the
Policy
Debate
 
 Despite the fact that new “cool” media tools and online social media allow individuals increased communications power.” watch dogging the mainstream media. intellectual property. democratic development. (2) media competency. physical media and cultural institutions in communities. creating social media on the edges of the network and outside public institutional. and (4) the creation of alternative content. In order to enact these activities in the policy arena we consistently tend to rely on two key strategies: (1) non-commercial funding and.” joining the “Indy Media” makers. their public voices will be shaped by the sales centers of commercial information appliances and the gritty freelance labor culture of FedEx Office. the question of how communities will manage their media and information environments and develop local media cultures of civic engagement and diverse voices remains one of the great unasked and unanswered questions in this era of national communications deregulation and privatization. production tools and facilities from the commercial sector in the manner of public parks and green spaces. This sector arises from the lowered cost of production and distribution of culture via Internet style networks. collective action and new forms of sociality. In the absence of local. media artists.” or as “citizen video bloggers. Euphoria over these very real increases in the potential for empowerment along with the heady commercialism of communications gadgetry have created an uncritical celebration of a kind of ‘network individualism’ in which highly individualized actors are seen to operate in isolation. Basis
for
Commonality
and
Collaboration
 
 Media arts. Other
Questions
 
 What types of local media institutions are needed to take advantage of the democratic potential of a network society? What are the critical political and theoretical distinctions between media created in the context of individualized. online social media making.

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