Indie Media's Moment

The economic downturn has been hard on both independent and corporate media. But now there's an opportunity for independent media outlets to chip away at mainstream media's market share.

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A partial solution to funding independent media could be "community media trusts" (CMT) financed by labour organizations, citizens, foundations, institutions (churches, universities), government and NGOs. Renowned communications academic James Curran and others who have put forth the creation of public trusts have conceived of single national public trusts, primarily funded through the state. Alternatively, we could set up a decentralized network of CMTs to provide service to particular geographical regions. For example, Vancouver-based NGOs, universities, churches, labour groups, foundations, citizens and possibly local government, could pool their resources and create a Vancouver CMT, which could provide long-term funding for public service independent media in Vancouver.

Could this be the way forward for a democratically accountable independent media sector?

Media Democracy Day

In the coming weeks, several cities will host public forums marking the 10th consecutive year of Media Democracy Day [2] (MDD). Vancouver will host MDD 2009 [3] at the Vancouver Public Library, tomorrow from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The conversation in MDD's interactive workshops and panels can help provide a path to a reinvigorated independent media sector in Canada.

According to SFU Professor Robert Hackett, the initial drive of MDD was to "build a greater sense of community for those fighting for media democracy." In the past, these events have led to key collaborations between allied media projects. This year we hope to see more collaboration and more pragmatic discussions focused on elevating, expanding and multiplying independent media in this country. There is a window of opportunity right now, and that window can and will close if we don't take this challenge seriously.

Considering the current crisis in big media, now is the time to take independent media to the next level.

Marie Elliott is a fourth year SFU Communications student. She aspires to be a new media/music journalist and currently runs a music blog [4].

Steve Anderson is the national coordinator for OpenMedia.ca [5]. He is a contributing author of Censored 2008 and Battleground: The Media and has written for The Tyee, Toronto Star, Epoch Times, Common Ground, rabble.ca and Adbusters.

Reach him at: [email protected]democraticmedia.ca [6], http://www.facebooksteve.com [7], http://www.steveontwitter.com [8], http://medialinkscolumn.com [9].

Media Links is a syndicated column supported by CommonGround, The Tyee, rabble.ca and VUE Weekly.

Media Links by Steve Anderson, Common Ground, rabble.ca, The Tyee, VUE Weekly is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 Canada License. You must attribute this work to Steve Anderson, Common Ground, rabble.ca, TheTyee, VUE Weekly (with link).
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