Why Community Media?

In our times, Economy is not the only one that is in crisis in Europe: It is also a Society and Democracy crisis and there is an urgent and serious need for Civil Society empowerment. The EU/CoE Member States work together to increase Civil Society capacity, understanding its role both for the future of democracy and civil participation.

In order to achieve Civil Society’s empowerment it is necessary to make its voice heard. And thus is has been identified that in order to build Civil Society capacity, its media capacity must be increased. Community Media is comprised of a set of the tools and networks that Civil Society can use in order to make its voice heard and thus be empowered.

There are many reasons – often highly contextual – why CSOs cannot make their message heard in the society by reaching media (in some countries more than others): difficulties to learn new methods and technologies, discord/no communication routes and networks with traditional mass media, or a lack of motivation, guidance or training / support.

In 2008, European Parliament has defined the importance of Community Media in Europe “as non-profit making and independent, not only from national, but also from local power, engaging primarily in activities of public and Civil society Interest, serving clearly defined objectives which always include social value and contribute to intercultural dialogue” (Resolution 2008/2011(INI)).

In the same Resolution, the European Parliament “Advised Member States, without causing detriment to traditional media, to give legal recognition to community media as a distinct group alongside commercial and public media where such recognition is still lacking” and “Calls on the Commission to take into account community media as an alternative, bottom-up solution for increasing media pluralism when designing indicators for media pluralism.” In order for Community Media to reach this aim, achieving homogeneity of CSOs media capacity in Europe, there is a need for co-creation of such training frameworks and programmes and partnerships/networks among community media and related NGOs in Europe.

It is an identified common problem in Europe, that CSOs cannot communicate their message effectively because they do not possess the necessary media literacy and skills as they should. Through community media, CSOs need to actively encourage public participation, to tap into the potential of the Knowledge Society and to become more integrated with the public. Otherwise, they face the risk of marginalization. Further, without media empowerment, CSOs are effectively failing to sustain themselves as “learning organizations” - a state of being that it has been defined as essential for any organization to achieve, in order to be able to organically adapt and survive in our era of speed and economic critical pivot points.

Without the creation of Community Media networks and training programmes, CSOs are being excluded from opportunities central to participation and cooperation, funding, engaging the public, contributing to a strong Civil Society as a whole.

CSOs have had limited access to media training opportunities, media skills training and on the field hands-on coaching on media tools. Given this lack of access to (community) media skills training and media, CSOs are unable to penetrate and pass their message into a big portion of the public, limits their chances of engagement in participation and gaining of public support and thus to achieve their aims and be sustainable.