I have seen a lot of community media over the years. I’ve watched programs, judged videos in competitions and even made a few programs. I have seen trends that scare me because they point to the demise of local media and I have seen examples and venues that contribute visibly to community growth. Here’s to the latter.
One of the best examples of community media I have witnessed is www.claycord.blogspot.com and it performs a grand community service.
Claycord.com is a digital river. The daily events of Concord, Clayton, Walnut Creek, Pleasant Hill and Martinez pass by like little boatloads of information. Claycord.com is a forum for local news that is supported by citizen reporters, gossipers, and other local commentators. It works. Yesterday as I parked my car I noticed a ConFire Supervisors car followed by a pumper moving in a big hurry towards the City of Clayton. When I got to my computer a minute later I logged onto Claycord.com for their scanner feed. The blog opened to a posting made while I was walking up the stairs indicating that a second alarm had been called on a local house fire. Five minutes later the first picture was posted and on and on. Fact is that this kind of coverage is commonplace on Claycord.com.
In addition to content there are other things that distinguish Claycord.com. The most important is that it is independent. Sure, Mr. Mayor is the archon extirpator of the entire enterprise. But he doesn’t seek grants or other things with strings. It is just pure citizen journalism. Well he has some ads. Big deal.
My hope and ambition for community television is to mimic the independence and citizen centricity evidenced in Claycord.com. The news gathering/contribution process is quick, simple and egalitarian. The folks who post news events on Claycord.com do appear to know just what they are doing. So that doesn’t have to be replicated in community video.
How nice would it be to create a river of feature television similar in method to Claycord.com or even Facebook. With current video server technology it is easy to fill community channels with many streams of programming. That same technology makes is easy to post schedules as well as RSS feeds such as Claycord.com. This opens a potential new audience. Providers need not be forced to produce whole productions but could place segments or other short clips. Their choice.
Video on television is generally better to look at than on YouTube and the like. The picture size, framerate and compression is bigger, faster, etc., making for better pictures. Back in the day one had to copy tapes onto a longer reel or play tapes one at a time. Now it’s a few clicks after the video is ingested into the server.
So, friends, what I am proposing and seek support for is a community media presence that functions a lot like Claycord.com with its independence and citizen base. But, also one that functions like a technology center. Where people can make a cable program, place a cable program for transmission, or communicate in other media platforms. But especially such a place will have valuable features in five years that have not yet been invented.