Community media can be described as any form of media that is created and controlled by a community, with the essential idea to engage groups that categorically have been excluded and marginalized from the media making process. In a more globalized information age, community media manages to develop several paths and directions for local communities that can facilitate the intersection with the global communication and information network.
Definitions of contemporary community media can encompass both geographical boundaries as well as a community of interest or shared identity. As the world embraces the Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) in development projects, new benefits as well as disadvantages are therefore discovered. Tied to both opportunities and threats, competing ends and approaches are contributing to a digital divide, and sources for comparisons within the new media and ICT approach are abundant.
This community media blog is focusing on community media as a development communication tool, cohesive to the participatory communication model and the communication for development approach to enable social change. It is developed in order to acknowledge and create dialogue around the concept of community media and how it can be used as a development communication tool. Our vision with this blog is to interchange ideas on how new media and ICTs can challenge traditional community media and benefit from contemporary media with civic participation.
It is clear that there is no generic way to identify and define community media, but through an array of definitions specific to a given context. In defining community media, scholars have been burdened with the task of examining the scope and depth of communities ranging from the traditional geographic perspectives to the modern day virtual and societal. Emanating from this fluidity is the question around whose voices gain prominence in mediums defined as community media. Adding to this complexity are the technologies that carry the cause of community development through community mediums. Ultimately the debate revolves around the true ownership of messages and the authenticity of community voices within these mediums. Accessibility remains a critical element in arrogating the responsibility for messages that normally pass as community messages. The question of participatory characteristics of these communication options remains critical in the debate around the impact and efficacy of community media as an agent for community driven developmental objectives.
Indeed this new approach on ICTs for community media can be seen as an opportunity for development initiatives to include marginalized groups into the public sphere, as well as bridging the digital divide. ICTs can embrace both traditional and new forms of information technologies especially through mixing both radio and the internet in a given community. In summation, technology by itself is not the answer within development processes and from a communication for development approach, the voice of the citizen needs to be listened to and heard. ICTs should be more accessible to marginalized groups, but taking into account some social and political aspects, like active participation in decision-making, community interests, values and traditions, sustainability and empowerment.