Media activists support public access

More than 50 community media activists and producers around the Midwest met downtown at the Radisson over the weekend for the Alliance for Community Media's regional spring conference. Erik Mollberg of Ft. Wayne and Brian Losekamp of Cincinnati discuss "media salons" at the Alliance for Community

Media's regional conference.

One of the main workshops concerned "media salons," a type of gathering of different forms of media for critique and public view. Erik Mollberg, of Access Ft. Wayne, is involved in one of the Midwest's major media salons, which is broadcast on the city's public access channel.

"A media salon is anything you want it to be. It can be for all types of media, a completed work, a work-in-progress, whatever," Mollberg said. "Salons were originally held by wealthy people in their homes to bring together people for conversation. Look at it in the same context. We're a 'wealthy home.' We have a lot of experience. We have a lot of technicians. We have a lot of equipment. A lot of it is to foster this dialogue for these people. You're pulling them together and you're bringing in a new audience who might not be aware of what you're doing."

Hap Haasch of the Community Television Network said that raising awareness in Indianapolis was particularly important now that cable franchise agreements are being renegotiated.

"Indianapolis is a major metropolitan area with really good government and educational access, but no public access," Haasch said. "We wanted to come here and start building relationships that will help them get a public access movement going. A public access provision is built into the franchise agreement but it has not been activated."

Public Access of Indiana, led by Andrea Price, is leading the way for public access in Indianapolis.

"They've got to be persistent," Haasch said. "They can't give up. In some respects they're climbing a mountain. The political resources are entrenched. They must feel there's not enough community will to reallocate those resources and make public access happen. I think the city may just want to wait them out and see if they can hold together."

"All segments of society are starting to learn how consolidated the mainstream media is and how hard it is to get open information," said Anthony Riddle, ACM's executive director. "This is one way for the community to share the kind of information they need. If you have 200 channels on cable and they're all coming from a few sources located thousands of miles away, where's Indianapolis? The sense of what makes Indianapolis different from other cultures can only be cultivated through local community media. A lot of the other towns and cities around here have it, and it seems like the people of this city deserve it as well, especially when you consider how little it costs. This is the crossroads of the country."

Public Access of Indianapolis' Web site:


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