Community media from different perspectives


April 29. Press conference held by UMAC – Understanding Media for Active Citizenship – in Bayonne city.

Written by Ahmed Zaidan

Community Radio motivates active citizens to engage in media

Community radio can be identified as a contribution of non-profit establishment to let civilian activists deal with media in an easier way. Community radios witness a noticeable prosperity within the globalization, especially in multicultural societies which embrace different communities.

For instance, in Finland, since the beginning of eighties, migration movement engulfed the country with the sparking of Iraqi-Iranian war and the escalation against the Kurds in middle east. We shall never forget the Bosnian civil war in 90’s, which casted a heavy shadow on the Balkans countries and pushed many people to move towards the European north.

All these communities that had recently abandoned their original homelands seemed to be in need of a public platform in order to preserve their cultural legacy in new homes. As well as it is an opportunity to address the communication and cultural problems on air. So community radio has become a way of integration into the new society.

Community media from another prospective

In Basque country I met Sally Galiana, radio-coordinator at Near Media Co-op in Dublin, and I asked her to what extent community radio helps people to understand media.

Community radio works to facilitate people to producer of media. So they learn know how news are put together and radio programs are put together. So it is a kind of taking away a little bit the myth of how difficult is to do radio, for example. So people understand how the journalist skills work, they also understand how the studio works and they can put it all together.

She also added that a lot of people that come to the community media, they look forward to change something to better and resort their rights. So there is a kind of understanding that they want to change media, they want to change the stories, I think when we look at media there is a tendency to ministry of media to tell us only one angle and one perspective of the story and what community radio does. It opens the possibility to the citizens to tell the same story but from different perspective which is very important and that is basically what media literacy is.

People are the real experts who experienced the situation

Sally Galiana believes that the duty of community radios is not to recopy what the public commercial radios do. But what the community radio should be doing is to challenge the concept of highlighting the experts who are only in power. Sally believes that for some particular situation that the experts are the citizens themselves. and people are the real experts who experienced the situation.

Equal opportunities

Mikel Etxebarria from Radio Kultura in Basque country explains how they have been involved in some European projects for 6 years. They have different kind of topics like multicultural issues and how to integrate woman in media and the equalization of their role in the society.

Mikel also added that they have noticed that the place of the women in the sport media is not as it should be. So they have trainings that address this case, through reading the certain newspapers or listening to different radio or TV stations and we try to analyse these. Where they speak about the sports women? Is there any picture or advertisement just around it or not? And how many lines are written about that? How can we give another perception about that? How do we speak in all community media about sports women? So, in this way people will be used to women in sports media.

The coordination between community radios in Europe

Mikel has noticed that each European partner have their own training program and their own philosophy of sharing knowledge with the new partners of radio station that could be the new workers or new volunteers.

“We thought that why don’t we bring all these trainings together and find a website where we can share the knowledge not only for us (the radio stations) but for anybody who is interesting in media and we look forward to give them a chance to understand media well. And how radio works. How to speak in radio? How to prepare interview? How to understand the news?”

That is what they have been doing for the last three years. they collect the trainings from each station and then we translate each one into different languages.
So now the toolbox is ready for something between 60 to 70 training programs. At least in each language there are 10 trainings that everybody can access to these trainings and get to learn about something.

Sharing the information together through toolbox to improve the community radio experiment

UMAC has organized a project adopted by a number of European community radios that deals with media literacy and the ways of sharing the strategies of media through a toolbox in the website of the project.

Within the UMAC toolbox, media tends to be at hands of active civilians on wider range. It is a spring of pure information for those who look for secured sources in midst of freely deployed websites of the internet.

Why community media is important?

Magdalena Dankova an activist in community media from Czech Republic identifies the importance of community media, referring that community media is against discrimination.
It is an alternative. It is a promotion of local culture and arts. It is important for society as preservation of culture and arts. It is also a platform that people can participate in public life through the programs of community media and It gives people a feeling that they are a part of the society.

By Ahmed Zaidan (meet him here)

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