Community Media creating Common Goods

Since the entrance of tools like YouTube and Vimeao and other Internet based communications I hear folks say “why do we need community media?”  “Is PEG access really necessary?”  “Why should we support public media, hasn’t the Internet solved all of our woes?”  While it is true that there is more access than ever before to the tools of media making and the distribution of media via new Internet platforms, what is not made more rich is the production of “common goods”.

Lohmann (1989 – http://nvs.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/18/4/367) writes that nonprofit organizations are provide more than the production of needed goods and services often ignored by the public and commerical sectors.  These organizations produce crucial “common goods” that allow individuals to express themselves and their values, build meaningful practices, learn new techniques and a range of other useful non-tangible goods that are necessary for a fully functioning society.

This concept of “common goods” is not unlike theories surrounding social capital, civic engagement, democratic participation, and freedom of expression often found in other civic sector activities.   Ellie Rennie (http://www.cbonline.org.au/3cmedia/3c_issue3/BarryERennie.pdf) also talks about community media existing as to serve needs that are different than commercial mainstream media.  These “common goods” which are about creation of social interaciton, expression of values, and the creation of social spaces where what is produced are relationships, learning, new ideas and expression.  The Internet is not particuarly adept at this.  It is here that community media has its value.

It is this space that I am interested in exploring more.