By Eva Barrows
Alliance for Community Media (ACM) Western States Region held its annual conference in Sacramento March 15-17. This year’s conference theme was “Empowering Voices…Bridging Communities.” Community Media Centers (CMC) gathered to share ideas on staying relevant and adapting with changing media technology. Fake news is more likely to be interacted with said Kim Nalder, Political Science Professor at CSUS, in her keynote but local news is more trusted. Access stations like Midpen Media Center are extremely important to the distribution of local news and views.
Donna Keating, Media Services Manager in Montgomery County Maryland presented on a panel about developing community news programs. Her community was not served well by the network news. Washington DC politics and international news drowned out local interests and events. Keating’s government access channel developed a weekly news show that became the go to source for local info. The result of a recent survey found that half of the service area residents still feel that more local news is needed. Her team is posting more news to the station website and they’re asking the public to submit news story ideas.
Keri Stokstad, Executive Director of Midpen Media Center led a panel discussion on developing community partnerships. Rory O’Farrell, General Manager of Tahoe Truckee Community TV shared a success story of how his station connected with local non-profits. To promote “Give Back Tahoe” a fundraiser for the non-profits, the CMC ran ad campaigns on their cable channel and broadcast a live four-hour variety show. The charities saw an increase in donations over the past years when they were only using print to get their message out. The amazing results and experience of creating TV brought three of the non-profits to become members of Tahoe Truckee Community TV.
In order to capture the attention of individuals, CMCs need to communicate on the devices that people are using. Chad Johnston, CEO of CreaTV San Jose said that people need the language of telling a story. The ability to tell a compelling story will always be a necessity no matter what the mode. CMCs have the responsibility to teach media literacy so that members of the community can tell their stories and understand how to process the media they watch.
Conference attendees had the opportunity to explore Sacramento independently and with the group. Access Sacramento opened their TV studio, production truck and radio station for tours. A reception for conference goers was held at the Crocker Art Museum with access to some of the galleries. The conference culminated in the exciting WAVE Awards ceremony where media center producers won awards for their outstanding shows and short films.