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What is community media

What is community media
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Costa Rica is a country where we have a very  weak public media system not as it will happen in   Europe for example so given that most of the media  of our country is private owned and that is a good   thing but uh the problem is that private media  only by itself tends to become too commercial, too   oriented to only entertainment uh with very  few educational or media or news content   so this focus on on only entertainment gives  the the communities very few space to express   their problems their issues and so many  things that happen never get explained in   the news in the television in the radio and also  communities that live far away from the capital   never feel that their issues are spoken nationally  and also they don’t get to know they usually say   I know everything of what’s happening in the San  Jose in the capital but i don’t know anything of   what’s happening 300 meters away of myself so that  that sense of local of having a local media that   is telling you what’s happening in your community  that is also putting on the music that is created   in your community so that it gets known and  maybe goes up to the national media someday   doesn’t exist in Costa Rica and  we are trying to reinforce that   and to make a difference to  really give the opportunity   of communities to have a voice and and that’s  why this is very important because uh free media   is the base of democracy and and that’s how we  should see it and understand why it’s so important.

‘Community media’ refers to any form of media created and controlled by a community, with the aim of serving that community. This can include community radio and television stations but also local magazines, ‘grassroots’ journalism and alternative or citizen media – whether online and offline.

A useful way of thinking about community media, is as any media that is both independent of the government but also run without the intention of making profit. In other words, community media organisations are neither state-run nor commercial. Instead, they are run by and for the benefit of a community.

As a result, a vibrant community-based media has come to be regarded as a vital part of a diverse and healthy media system. According to UNESCO, community media, whether broadcast or online, are,

Crucial to ensuring media pluralism and freedom of expression, and are an indicator of a healthy democratic society. As an alternative medium to public and commercial media, as well as social media, they are characterized by their accountability to, and participation of, the communities they serve. They have a greater focus on local issues of concern and facilitate public platforms for debate and discussion.

For this reason, supporting community media has become a priority for many donors and policy-makers working in media development.

The importance of community media – and how it differs from privately owned, commercial media – is further explained in the video above.

  • What examples of community media are there in your local area? What is your impression of these organisations? What kinds of content do they produce and for which audiences?

  • Do you agree with the suggestion in the video that privately owned, commercial media are generally, ‘oriented towards entertainment with very little educational content’?

Use the comments link below to share your thoughts.

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Why Does Media Matter for Development?

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