Community Media Centers: Best Practices - Nine North

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Community Media Centers: Best Practices

Last November, our Executive Director Dana Healy spoke at a global conference based in Australia about the future of government communication called GovComm Festival. There were over a thousand registered viewers watching from all over the world.


“This was an awesome opportunity to let people know what media centers are doing to help our communities,” said Healy.


First, Healy’s colleague David Kiser from CCX Media spoke about the value CCX brings to the community and how vital community media centers are to the community. Then, Healy spoke about fostering a relationship between cities and their media centers.


Cable connections


“What do these two have in common,” asked Healy as she presented a side by side photo of Senator Bernie Sander and Drag Queen RuPaul. 


She revealed that back in the 1980s and 90s, Sander and RuPaul both had their own cable access television shows. 


Cable access, also known as community media, is a non commercialized mass media where the general public can create content about anything they want.


“Think Youtube, pre-Youtube,” said Healy.


The evolution of cable access


Community media has evolved over time, becoming highly technically community entities with access to production trucks and 4k video equipment as well as communication professionals.


“We see ourselves as an extension from our cities to the community, arming them with information,” said Healy. 


Community media centers like NineNorth reach out communities through our website and social media. We push out important information like election results, city mandates and municipal meetings.


Healy wants cities to think about just how much work their communications staff worker does every day. They have to work on social media, meetings, press releases, website updates and creative content.


Expand your team


Healy then asked for cities to imagine if this staff person had a communications team supporting them.


“With more assistance, they can engage different audiences on different platforms,” said Healy.


As for NineNorth, we produce community-focused digital media to educate and engage our residents. We’re a media production partner to our cities. We helped them create quality content, mainly through video, about our community, for our community.


There are over 1,600 community media centers in the United States. 


“They are professional storytellers, qualified video producers and truly community engagement enthusiasts,” said Healy.


Case studies


Healy presented three case studies how our cities worked with us in creative and unique ways.


First, Healy talked about how the Minnesota governor’s addresses about the pandemic were only available in English. So, NineNorth partnered with TPT Now to provide simultaneous translations of our Governor addresses in Spanish, Hmong, and Somali. 


We streamed these videos live on our social media, and our viewers shared it throughout the community.


“Providing language translation through community media centers is a low-cost way to include more voices to the community conversation,” said Healy. 


Second, Healy shared a story of the partnership between the city of Gresham, Oregon and their local community media center Metro East to create a video library to use on social media posts. The city communication took these videos and uses them to create engaging clips year round.


“This is a bandwidth builder. Identify communication items that can be easily outsourced to reclaim staff time. Video and photo-capturing is a great start,” said Healy.


Lastly, Healy shared the story of the city of Winchester, Massachusetts and how 250 people attended a city meeting.


WinCam, a Winchester based community media center worked with the public to develop a new town hall forum that was safe, legal and accessible. They made it so community member could call into city meetings through Zoom to voice their thoughts and concerns.


“Your city may already have access to enhanced technology platforms without going to a private company. Your local community media centers are already experts at city meeting coverage,” said Healy.


Healy encourages everyone to reach out to their community media center for any of their media needs.