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In the old west, a saloon set up shop, followed in fast order by a general store and a church. Schools appeared. But only when a newspaper started publishing did the settlement become a town with an identity.
The “newspaper” wasn’t about a form (ink on paper) but rather about creating an accessible hub where community members shared news, celebrated or commiserated together, explored ideas and fears and collaborated in a discussion about solutions and options, and validated their identity as members of this place.
Shared knowledge and experiences help form a sense of “us” as a place to which we all belong. The Lower Cape wants, deserves, and needs local news, reported and shared locally, by and about the people who live, work, and value this special place.
The world has changed and the communication tools have changed - but this very core human need for interconnection has not. Communities need that connective communication space. When our stories are no longer told, our stories are no longer being created .... Like the Whoville community on Horton the elephant’s dust speck, we need to shout “We are Here!” in order survive and thrive.
We live in a time where so much feels so divisive -- but only emphasizes the need for communication and sharing in a fair, balanced, and nonpartisan environment. The 2017 Knight Foundation conference talked about the role local media plays in “issues and troubles.” The world’s big issues matter, of course, but managing the myriad of local community “troubles” on daily basis forms the backbone of what keeps our communities healthy places to live.
Where else but local media can we talk about why a new fire station does (or doesn’t) matter, or how a local arts center offering new studios might create an economic pop for the area? These hyper-local topics may not matter to humanity as a whole on a global scale, but they make a dramatic difference to everyday life in our home region. The connective hub of local media provides the stage upon which a community can engage and create together.
Beyond doubt, the 21st century has brought a whole new way of communicating, connecting, and sharing within and among ourselves and our world. It isn’t merely that people read or watch on portable screens - the whole way we interact with content and our expectations for what content can be and where content comes from has changed ... and continues to change.
To meet people where they are we, as media, have to take on a certain fearlessness in trying new approaches and bringing new voices to the table. Community-created content, citizen- journalists, augmented content, virtual reality content, content consumed in short bursts, content reflecting the “troubles” of many constituencies and agendas and celebrating the lives and times of the same ... there is no longer a “them” and “us!” Our role is to facilitate the “we.”
We have to rethink the forms of video news in the 21st century ... and dare to try things that may or may not work. It isn’t just about how we distribute video content - it shapes the very form video content takes.
Lower Cape Community Access TV is a non-profit community based organization that manages channels 99 and 22 for the towns of Brewster, Eastham, Orleans, Truro, and Wellfleet.
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