Abstracts

Nicholas W. Jankowski
Radboud University
Nijmegen, The Netherlands

Conceptual and Technological Transformations of Community Media and Their Utilization by Social Movements: Reflections Across Time

This paper compares the aspirations of early initiatives of community media in Europe with those of a number of contemporary computer-mediated Internet-based media projects. Although there have been considerable technological transformations during the past four decades since the first experiments with community radio and television in Western European countries, many of the ideological origins and day-to-day practices of contemporary community media have remained constant across time: creation of programming meaningful to the lives of community members, often intended to support general social objectives and actions. Such objectives, then as now, are a source of tension between theory and practice, between ideals and daily programming and organizational realities. Illustrations of these tensions are drawn, on the one hand, from community radio and television experiments in the 1970s and, on the other, from contemporary initiatives such as Indymedia and OurMedia. The paper argues that change in the community media technological and conceptual base, from cable-delivered programming to Internet-based sites for communities grounded in interest rather than geography, have not affected the overall goals of such media and the related tensions between these goals and programming practices. Then as now, political issues grounded in the everyday often emerge from seemingly innocuous self-made programming, be it prepared for a local radio station or for a dating site such as MySpace. Then as now, the challenge for those involved in these media is to extend the individual, personalized expression to one reflecting a collective and wider political objective.

 
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Peace Institute Slovenian Communication Association Dep't of Media Studies