Community Media Discussion – Testing Our Community Reporting Toolkit

In this week’s community media discussion, we are going to look at a toolkit for community reporting that I’ve been working on with Professor Edward Cartwright and his colleagues at De Montfort University. We’ve been thinking about how communities understand AI and their life in a smart city. We’ve put together an inclusive model for community engagement that can be used to support community development using different types of DIY media. In our discussion this week we’ll be looking at an early draft of the toolkit, and asking how relevant, applicable and justifiable it is as a practical tool. Join us to discuss how community communications and community sensemaking can change society for the better by opening up our media to greater diversity, inclusivity, participation and civic engagement.

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The idea of a community reporters’ toolkit came about after the success of the Leicester Smart City that we ran last year with the Alan Turing project. Community reporters are trained to work in a way that encourages them to act and think like community media sense-makers, who use media to navigate the evolving landscape of a post-institutional, devolved, and decentralized media age. Our toolkit aims to provide a comprehensive resource for people engaged in community media, recognizing the relevance and importance of community-driven communication in shaping our collective social and cultural narratives – before others do that on our behalf.

In a time when traditional media institutions face challenges and power structures shift, such as BBC Local Radio in England cutting back its locally produced content, community media has the potential to emerge as a powerful force. Community media allows individuals to reclaim their voice and actively participate in shaping the narratives that define their communities. Our toolkit embraces this shift and offers practical guidance to community media makers who play a vital role in fostering effective communication.

By focusing on community-driven media, we tap into the collective wisdom, diverse perspectives, and localised knowledge that often go unheard in mainstream media. As media becomes more devolved and decentralized, the need for community media makers to step forward and share their stories has never been more crucial.

Therefore, we hope this toolkit can serve as a compass, providing resources and best practices for non-expert community advocates from charities, NGOs, and social and mutual aid groups. It equips them with the necessary tools to navigate this post-institutional era and effectively communicate with their communities.

Community media serves as a platform for authentic representation, inclusivity, and the democratization of voices. It enables communities to tell their own stories, define their own priorities, and address issues that matter most to them. By embracing this grassroots approach, we foster a sense of ownership and agency, empowering communities to drive their own narratives.

Our toolkit aims to acknowledge and encompass the relevance and importance of community media in this age of misinformation, the breakdown in trust in our mainstream news media, and the shift towards personalisation as more media is driven by digital decentralization. We are concerned that media creation can no longer limited to a select few, but rather has to be opened up as both a participative practice, and also a shared community responsibility. As we collectively navigate this changing media landscape, community media becomes a vital component in shaping a more democratic, inclusive, and participative media culture.

If you subscribe to our Patreon, we will invite you to explore the toolkit, engage with its resources, and take on board your valuable feedback. As a subscriber, you get access to the Decentered Media Forum. Your insights and experiences are essential in refining this toolkit and ensuring its relevance to our ever-evolving media landscape. Together, let us harness the power of community media, amplify diverse voices, and foster a truly inclusive and participative media age.


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