Public Access New Media

Last November, I wrote a couple blog posts about The Future of the Newspaper. I suggested that as local papers closed down, at least some local news coverage could be picked up by bloggers. Steve Collins noted that many readers of local papers are older and are less likely to be online. I suggested that perhaps we could get people to take material from the blogs and create public access television shows presenting material from new media on public access media.

Now, several months later, I’m on the Government Access Television commission for my local town and serve as the First Selectman’s designee to the Sound View Community Media board. There is some historical enmity between GAT and SVCM and I am in a difficult position trying to find ways that we can all work together as effectively as possible to use community media to promote civic involvement at the local level.

This evening, GAT will have a meeting and I hope to present a few of my ideas about ways to bring public access media and new media together a little better. The simplest parts are making sure that the GAT schedule is as easy to find online as possible and that we get more GAT programming available online.

However, there are other ideas that go beyond GAT. As an example, ever since I attended my first board meeting of SVCM, I’ve been kicking around the idea of setting up a public access television show talking about how to connect public access media with community access media, and then bringing information from new media into community access media.

As I’ve thought about it, I’ve also thought that a weekly news program highlighting what is on various towns’ GAT channels would be useful. GAT is great in providing raw gavel-to-gavel footage. Yet a lot of people are not especially interested in watching a whole Board of Education meeting. They want to see the highlights, just like how they see highlights of other meetings on local news stations. Can we find people that will highlight important parts of a hearing and help craft a weekly news program that puts the highlights into context?

How would this work with high school students? My understanding is that Amity does some great work with high school students and video. Can we get any of them to participate in a weekly program? Could we expand it to add some educational content or even highlights from local sports teams?

Widening the scope even more, can we draw together people interested in the nexus of community media and new media for an open space style conference, or ‘unconference’? The idea is fairly simple. We need to find a day that we could get as many people interested in the topic to gather at some convenient place. Amity High School might be a good place to have it.

The ‘unconference’ would start by explaining how unconferences work, perhaps using the example of ‘podcamp’ unconferences. Then, the folks gathered would collaborate to establish an agenda and break out into sessions about the topics of most interest. A Public Access New Media conference could also invite people from various groups around the state, and not be just about Woodbridge, or towns in the Amity School district.

If you are interested in helping organize such an ‘unconference’, or helping produce a Public Access New Media television show, please let me know.

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