This past week, the Alliance for Community Media (ACM) held its annual conference in Boston. The event is a big deal in the public access world, and was attended by more than 600 community media representatives from across the country, including some of us from Wilmington Community Television.
There were a number of workshops and seminars focused on strategic thinking and new tactics being used from coast to coast: things like online archiving, digital storytelling and even virtual reality. There was also a heavy emphasis on youth outreach and building alliances in our communities, not to just strengthen local media centers, but to boost those communities as a whole.
And an ongoing theme was how to build a new age of journalism at the local level.
Thursday’s keynote address came from author John Nichols, and it served as a bit of a pep rally for the hundreds of attendees who are so devoted to covering their communities, whether they be towns like Wilmington or cities like Boston.
Nichols’ message: Democracy is in crisis because traditional forms of journalism are dying. There are far fewer institutions covering events at the town level than there used to be. National media has been reduced to a ratings battle and that mindset has trickled down to regional TV stations. As a result, coverage has been dumbed down to include more juicy political stories (instead of actual policy), crime notes, weather and tabloid material. His challenge to community media centers is to step up and fill the void.
His point echoes something I’ve been promoting at WCTV: We don’t have to be a news station to cover newsworthy events. Yentile Farm, the Library’s End-of-Summer Bash and a new dog park are all big “Wilmington stories” that we covered on our air. There is a thirst out there for this “hyper-local content”. And it stretches from community events to local organizations to our elected leaders.
WCTV will continue to work to identify topics in town that deserve coverage. That could mean sending a camera into the field or doing an interview in our studio.
But this isn’t just a call to action for WCTV staff. It’s an open invitation to Wilmington residents. If there are topics in town that you are passionate about or if you want to play a role in promoting certain activities or organizations, give us a call. We are a COMMUNITY television station and we are here to help you make it happen.