Digital media centres libraries for the 21st century
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Digital Media Centres... Libraries for the 21st Century. 1. I’ll talk about: Challenges for local media. The digital economy and opportunities in local digital broadcasting. You’ll walk away with ideas to: Improve your local media infrastructure.

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Digital media centres libraries for the 21st century

Digital Media Centres... Libraries for the 21st Century


Digital media centres libraries for the 21st century

I’ll talk about:

Challenges for local media.

The digital economy and opportunities in local digital broadcasting.

You’ll walk away with ideas to:

Improve your local media infrastructure.

Better equip residents to participate in the digital economy.


The history of local media and the municipality s role
The History of Local Media and the Municipality’s Role

1. First, there were newspapers and libraries.

People participated in civic affairs by joining local organizations and by reading newspapers.

People learned to read and write in school. Municipalities have supported

life-long literacy and access to information through schools and libraries

since the 1800s.

Where commercial incentives cannot

sustain local newspapers, community

newspapers often fill the gap. These

may be not-for-profits, with

contributions by volunteers as well

as professional journalists.


Digital media centres libraries for the 21st century

  • 2. Then, there was radio.

  • Local radio has been common since the early 1900s. Once again, where commercial bodies have not supplied local radio, community radio often fills the gap; there are over 200 community and campus radio channels in Canada.

  • Like many community newspapers, these are

  • not-for-profits programmed by volunteers.

  • They enable the expression of a wide range of

  • views on local topics.

  • Since radio production uses skills most of us

  • learn in school (talking, listening, reading and

  • writing to prepare scripts), radio did not create

  • a need for additional literacy education. Community radio channels teach the journalistic and technical skills needed to conduct interviews and edit sound.

  • Municipalities are often involved in the initial setup a community radio channel, and may use air time to discuss municipal affairs.


Digital media centres libraries for the 21st century

  • 3. And then, there was TV...

  • Video requires a more challenging mix of skills: reading and writing (like print), audio production (like radio) as well as the capture and manipulation of moving pictures.

  • Authorities grasped that there were different skills needed by viewers as well as producers of television. Moving images bypass the linguistic and analytical faculties that we use when reading or listening to the radio. Video and film are widely acknowledged as the dominant medium of the 20th century: powerful and visceral, with a greatest potential to manipulate audiences for better and for worse.

  • With the introduction of cable TV in the 1970s, the Canadian government was concerned

  • that American programming would overwhelm Canadian audio-visual culture. The CRTC

required cable operators to set aside one channel as an open-access platform for local expression, and for Canadians to gain media literacy skills in the new dominant medium of the day.

There were just under 300 cable community TV channels in Canada by the 1980s.

Many municipalities as well as provincial and federal officials have used this platform to address constituents “face-to-face”, using interactive formats such as the “call-in”.


Digital media centres libraries for the 21st century

A Famous Case Study: Fogo IslandEarly CRTC policy for community television was aimed at poverty-reduction.

Fogo Island is a small island off Newfoundland that had depended on fishing, until large trawlers threatening islanders’ livelhood. Before moving islanders to the mainland, the government of Canada asked the NFB to capture on film what islanders themselves thought should be done.

The results were surprising: Islanders insisted on

viewing and editing the footage before it went to

Ottawa. In the process of reviewing their own and

their neighbours’ thoughts on their common economic

and social challenges, they discovered that they were

more articulate than they believed, and came up with

solutions to their own problems.

Ottawa dubbed the new tool “the mirror machine”, and began sending NFB film crews into various communities across Canada that faced economic hardship. In each case, the process of articulating the community’s challenges on film generated its own solutions.

When cable TV and the first video Portapacs came to Canada, the requirement that each cable operator offer training and equipment access to communities was the government’s way of putting “the mirror machine” in the hands of every community. (first film)


Digital media centres libraries for the 21st century

Canada’s pioneering community media policy

was developed to address:

 economic challenges 

We sometimes think of media (especially video) as just entertainment, or an outlet for cultural expression, or at best a conduit for the news.

As we discovered on Fogo Island, high-quality local media in which individuals, businesses, cultural and community organizations, and civil authorities can participate is vital to local economic development.

The need for an accurate ‘mirror machine’ is more vital than ever, the more our municipalities undergo rapid economic, social and cultural change.


Digital media centres libraries for the 21st century

But hasn’t everything changed since then?Yes… and no.The component media we use to create messages are the same:- print- audio- imagesTwo things have changed:1) the flexibility to combine them 2) the platforms for distribution


Digital media centres libraries for the 21st century


Digital media centres libraries for the 21st century

  • 1) Federal Policies are Obsolete with our need for access to:

  • Media Skills Training

  • More than $130 million annually (close to half the average library budget, municipality by municipality) is still collected from cable subscribers for “community media”, but more than ¾ of cable ‘community TV channels” have closed.

  • The few channels that remain are available only to the 60% of residents who subscribe to cable (down from a high of ~ 80% in the 1990s)

  • Cable companies have professionalized content; opportunities to learn new skills and cross-fertilize local ideas in an open-access platform are limited.

  • Where training opportunities exist, they are in traditional TV production and the output is available only on cable.

  • Access to Platforms

  • Industry Canada has yet to publish a digital strategy. The piecemeal policies that have been implemented so far have not favoured access for municipal and civic authorities, community organizations, small businesses, or individuals. (e.g. the digital transition, the upcoming spectrum auction).


Digital media centres libraries for the 21st century

2) Local Resources Strained to Keep Up with our need for access to:Decreasing Local Content:

Many local papers, radio and TV channels have closed withintense media ownership concentration.

The Internet and social media are great at linking communities ofinterest internationally, but tend not to be as good at aggregating local audiences, especially using video.

Some Media Literacy Training, but it Stops in Highschool:

Libaries: Many hosted Industry Canada-funded “CAP” sites (Community Access Portals) until funding was cut in 2012. Most were passive Internet portals for residents without Internet at home. A few taught web and digital media production.

Book loans at most libraries have been falling for years. Libraries are aware that they need to redefine their mandates in the digital age. CACTUS’ vision is supported by the Canadian Library Association and the Ontario Library Association.

Schools: Grade 11 Language Arts in Ontario includes a module on “media literacy”. A few schools have full-blown media studios. Most have time to critique ads or caution kids about web use, but not to build a comprehensive skills set.


Digital media centres libraries for the 21st century

  • This is where CACTUS comes in. with our need for access to:

  • 1) We help communities establish digital media skills training and production centres, to promote life-long learning and participation in the digital economy:

    • develop funding models

    • find locations (often in partnership with existinginstitutions, like libraries)

    • develop an inclusive board

    • set goals (skills traiing, inclusion of marginalized groups, economic development)

    • provide on-going professional support (second video)

  • 2) We facilitate distribution of content on all platforms: traditional platforms including over-the-air, cable and satellite TV and radio, and to new platforms including the Internet and mobile devices:

    • Intervene with Industry Canada and the CRTC in licencing hearings, in policy development, in spectrum usage (often in partnership with municipalities)

    • Recently secured distribution for community TV on satellite

    • Worked with TVO to encourage communities to keep broadcasting towers

    • Educate communities about capabilities of digital transmitters.


Digital media centres libraries for the 21st century

  • The potential of former TVO, CBC, and other local communications towers, with digital TV transmitters:

    • Can redistribute up to ~10 television signals that have been lost to communites free to air (e.g. theCBC, TVO) or to bring in new signals. Cable andsatellite subscriptions that would otherwise flow out of the community can be reinvested in local media, creating local jobs, and stimulating the localeconomy, institutions, culture.

    • Originate a community TV and/or radio channel.

    • Distribute highspeed wireless Internet.

    • Enhance cellular coverage (distribute pamphlets)

  • CACTUS was at OSUM and FONOM talking about digital broadcasting.

  • We hope to be at ROMA, NOMA, AFMO, and AMO in the coming year.


Digital media centres libraries for the 21st century

  • International recognition of the critical role played by community media in the digital economy:

  • 2003 World Summit on the Information Society, Geneva:

    • “The ability for all to access and contribute information, ideas and knowledge is essential in an inclusive Information Society… The establishment of ICT [Information and Communications Technology] public access points in places such as post offices, schools, libraries and archives, can provide effective means for ensuring universal access to the infrastructure and services of the Information Society.”

  • The Knight Commission report to the FCC in October, 2009:

  • “Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy”

    • “Information is as vital to the healthy functioning of communities as ‘clean air, safe streets, good schools, and public health...Informed communities can effectively coordinate activities, achieve public accountability, solveproblems, and create connections...To achieve the promise of democracy,it is necessary that the creation, organization, analysis and transmission of information include the whole community”.

  • Get rid of existing audio (or re-record it)

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