A roundtable discussion on the need for, and future of, community media

Community Media Organisations as Protectors of Democracy, by Nico Carpentier
Abstract: Community media are seen in many different ways. In some parts of the world, they are still considered to be key components in the ongoing struggle for the democratisation of the media field and society as a whole. In other regions, this model is completely unknown, while in yet other parts of the world, they are now seen as outdated and irrelevant, made superfluous by the workings of the digital multitude. This talk critically revisits these different positionings, showing their power dynamics, in order to ground a warm plea for the establishment and the continuation of community media organisations in the 21st century, as much needed protectors of our democracies in the current form, but also as instruments of further deepening their democratic nature and increasing levels of societal participation.
Bio: Nico Carpentier is Docent at Charles University in Prague; he also holds part-time positions at Uppsala University and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB - Free University of Brussels). Moreover, he is a Research Fellow at the Cyprus University of Technology and Loughborough University. Earlier, he was ECREA Treasurer (2005-2012) and Vice-President (2008-2012), and IAMCR Treasurer (2012-2016). Currently, he is Chair of the Participatory Communication Research Section at IAMCR. His last monograph is The Discursive-Material Knot: Cyprus in Conflict and Community Media Participation (2017, Peter Lang, New York).

Community Media as Spaces for Lifelong Learning, by Helmut Peissl
Abstract: Community radio and TV stations are not only media in a narrow sense but offer learning environments for involved individuals and communities to acquire new skills and competences without the idea of being active to learn. The aspect of community media as non-intentional learning arrangements by the practice of learning-by-doing offers especially chances for disadvantaged individuals and groups who often have met negative learning experiences in institutional settings. Analyzing the scope and the various aspects of learning areas in community media leads to the conclusion that they contribute to all of the eight core competences for lifelong learning as they are defined by EU Policy. There is a challenge to make learning in community media more valuable and visible as an argument of personal qualification. But the idea of more recognized forms of learning with defined objectives also contradict the quality of the specific learning arrangements in community media.
Bio: Helmut Peissl is the director of COMMIT - Community Medien Institut für Weiterbildung, Forschung und Beratung in Austria and works as an independent researcher for the Council of Europe. He holds a master degree on Media and Communication Science. The focus of his work lies in community media and its relation to lifelong learning, social inclusion, intercultural dialogue and multilingual media production. He realized several studies for the media authority and the ministry of education in Austrian. In 2016 he published together with his collegue Meike Lauggas Ich lerne mit jeder Sendung! Bildungsleistungen und Beiträge zum lebensbegleitenden Lernen des nichtkommerziellen Rundfunks in Österreich (With every show I learn something! Educational services and contributions to lifelong learning by community radio and TV in Austria).

Community Media and Conflict Transformation: Reflections from Cyprus Community Media, by Vaia Doudaki
Abstract: Community media are known for their participatory and horizontal structures of organization and decision-making, allowing for the inclusion of a multitude of voices. This capacity to foster diversity, intercultural dialogue, and tolerance has made community media privileged partners in peace-building, conflict transformation, and reconciliation processes. After a short presentation of the scholarly work in this area, the talk will focus on a specific island country, Cyprus, which is ridden by long-lasting conflict. By bringing examples of community media on the island, the talk will discuss what strategies these organisations develop, what everyday practices they engage in, and what content they produce, contributing to more peaceful ways of cohabitation and to the reduction of antagonism in the Cypriot society. The presentation will not disregard the problems and complexities that these organizations face, caused by the fallacies in the community media model and by the Cypriot context of conflictuality.
Bio: Vaia Doudaki works as a Senior Researcher at Charles University in Prague. In the past, she worked as an Associate Professor (Docent) at Uppsala University, and as a Lecturer and Assistant Professor at Cyprus University of Technology. Her research is situated in the fields of alternative media studies, journalism studies and discourse studies.Her latest publications include: Doudaki Vaia and Boubouka Angeliki (forthcoming).Discourses of legitimation in the news: The case of the economic crisis in Greece. Routledge; Doudaki Vaia and Carpentier Nico (eds) (2018) Cyprus and its Conflicts. Representations, Materialities and Cultures. New York: Berghahn Books.

Failure Teaches Success, by Jan Křeček
Abstract: In 2014, the Czech Ministry of Culture called for projects on Implementing Community Media in the Media System of the Czech Republic. With myself as the principal investigator, we built a small team and wrote a small project proposal, which was accepted. The response from the general and the professional public was very limited and after some political changes even the Ministry of Culture lost their interest to implement community media legislation. In my talk, I will reminisce about the details of our project and explain that, in the end, it was maybe better that our project was never realised.
Bio: Jan Křeček is an assistant professor of Department of Media Studies at Charles University in Prague and a member of its Center for Media Studies (CEMES) research team. His teaching is focused on politics and media, and in 2013, he published the monograph Political Communication from Res Publica to Public Relations, the first originally Czech introduction to the study of political communication. Methodologically, Keek works with content analysis, and he also provides technical expertise to the Czech media regulatory authorities. Upon request of the Czech Ministry of Culture, Keek was the principal investigator of the project Implementing Community Media in the Media System of the Czech Republic (2014-2015).

The Future of Community Media in Slovak Republic, by Lucia Škripcová
Abstract: Slovak community media are currently in a dire situation. Despite all the positive things community media bring to the society, they have never really established themselves in our region. There is a distinct lack of knowledge about them, not only in the scientific community, but within smaller communities as well. The number of community media, both zines and the internet-broadcasted ones, is really small as well. The zine situation is even further exacerbated with the constant influence push of social media, which do replace community media in some of their social aspects. In my talk, I will try to present some of the possible solutions to this situation, which could be grasped by the Slovak community media. I will also try to elaborate as to what could be done for their growth from other perspectives, such as the academic, cultural and legislative one.
Bio: Lucia Škripcová works at the Department of mass media communication which is a part of the Faculty of mass media communication at the University of Ss. Cyril and Methodius in Trnava, Slovakia as an assistant professor. She has received her degrees in mass media communication and journalism. The focus in her work lies in community media, dual and triadic electronic media systems, the possibilities of community media implementation into the slovak legislature and lastly the effects of community media on their recipients. She is also the managing editor of the European Journal of Media, Art & Photography, which is indexed in the Emerging sources citation index (WoS).

Community Media in the Digital Age: Uniquely Positioned for Success or Failure, by Henry Loeser
Abstract: Resulting from the development of new digital technologies, the demise of traditional local radio and television broadcasting has been forecast for decades now. Yet these legacy broadcasters, including commercial, public service and community types, have yet to succumb. However, ongoing changes in audience preferences and industry business models suggest that legacy media platforms may indeed be approaching the end of their lifecycle. Among these traditional forms, community broadcasting appears to be in a somewhat unique position of both strength and weakness in this new media landscape.
The dynamics of these fundamental shifts in the media ecosystem are explored in terms of the changes, challenges and opportunities presented to community media stakeholders. The position of community broadcasting  that bastion of alternativism, access, participation, and community development, exhibits both similarities and differences to its commercial and public service counterparts. The questions raised in this discussion may include:
- Can traditional community media effectively transition to online forms?
- Do digital natives really understand and value the concept of local communities?
- Does community media have a role in the future of local journalism?
These subjects are addressed in the context of social, political, economic, and technological frames. The future of legacy broadcasting may appear bleak in its current form. However, community media as we might imagine it, could be uniquely positioned to succeed (or fail) in the converged digital environment.
Bio: Henry Loeser is a research fellow in MEDIT and teaching member of the Baltic Film, Media, Arts and Communication School faculty. Dr. Loeser earned his PhD in 2016 for research into the societal attributes of Community Media at Masaryk University in the Czech Republic, and holds a MA in European Politics, BS in Business Administration, and AS in Mechanical Engineering. He co-founded the Media Innovation Center at Masaryk University, establishing the new university broadcast operations of student radio and TV. He also is an independent media advocate, has proposed new community media legislation for EU member states, and serves on the board of directors of the Community Media Forum Europe. Since 2003, he is founder and director of Radioexpert, an NGO that is active in community media projects worldwide.

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