Community Broadcasting and Social Change

enadmin, 19th November 2011

CBlogger JB reflects on community engagement and the concept of communities of social change:

At the CBAA Conference 2011 delegates have been discussing the concept of “culture and content” in Community Broadcasting and the discussions have been lively. Margaret Simons began the conference with a reminder of how media plays a vital role in democracy and how the role of citizen journalists and community content makers will become more important as media making business models settle.  Other sessions have covered the topic of engaging the community and engaging our audiences in what we do.

Connecting with these other media makers has reminded me of the common ground that community broadcasters all share. We (as Community Broadcasters) are a community of social change. Whenever we create content as community media makers we are agents for social change. You might think “how does my dodgy little community radio show change the world you wanker?”, but it is the fact that you represent communities, voices and perspectives that are heard nowhere else that makes you an agent of change. When you create community media you engage new conversations and new perspectives that noone else will cover – this is the nature of Community Broadcasting. Australia, as a country, is better for providing platforms for all Australians to contribute to our conversation – whether that be music, arts, politics or culture – Diversifying those who are part of the conversation is a vital part of social cohesion.

At the CBAA Conference it is inspiring to see so many diverse communities come together under the banner of Community Broadcasting and change the world in their own little, big and sometimes quirky ways. Australia has something very special in its Community Broadcasting sector and that should be fostered and preserved to ensure all Australians can be supported to have a voice.


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CBlogger Brad caught up with Ben Teoh, Graduate Project Officer of Online Content for Connecting Up, bef


The internet provides a means for non-professional media-makers to produce and publish their own video and audio content, as community television and radio have done for several decades. While the web seems to exemplify the principles of media access and diversity championed by the community media sector, it also raises challenges for broadcast community media participants and their online equivalents, not least being the co-opting of the term ‘community media’ by large commercial interests. A symposium held in Melbourne by Open Spectrum Australia (‘Quality/Control’, State Library of Victoria, Oct 2008) brought together people with a wide range of community media experience to discuss this and other issues, particularly the possibilities for greater cooperation between broadcast and online community media participants.

This paper draws on participant contributions at the symposium to explore the relationship between broadcast and online community media. Despite shared values, we identify different, and possibly incompatible, cultures within the two groups. We argue that this disjoint stems from two different systems of control or validation (licensing and networks), as well as producer-centered accounts of community media that are out of sync with the contemporary media environment. Instead, we propose that theory and practice begin to address issues of consumption in relation to community media, including identification, navigation and the notion of ethical choice.


To ground an assessment of community radio’s contributions to political life, this paper reviews recent developments in public sphere theory and discourse ethics. Tracing a genealogy of thinking from Habermas to Warner, the paper argues that formative contexts of contemporary politics such as the radical pluralisation of culture, the emergence of lifestyle politics and the epistemic change to a communication paradigm – also powerful forces in community radio – can find parallel theoretical resources in recent writing on the public sphere. The dialectical engagement of open and inclusive publicity (associated with liberal public life), with a more enclosed, strategic approach (associated with community groups’ decision processes) is not a theoretical obstacle, but a highly useful resource. Underpinning ‘circulation of opinion’ analysis, it can ground a contemporary policy analysis which values both normativity and diversity.