Ten members of the Deproduction team traveled to Austin this month to implement the Open Media tools at the second of 6 Beta sites, ChannelAustin. We traveled down in two RV’s and scheduled the visit to coincide with SXSW, where we hosted a core conversation as part of the interactive festival.
Austin is the first of the large Access Stations that we’ve worked with in this Knight News Challenge project, and it presented a whole new slate of challenges in comparison with the comparatively simpler implementation at Urbana Public TV. The entire process was documented, and the new ChannelAustin dev site was launched this week. Text documentation is being developed and posted online, with video to follow.
ChannelAustin is poised to be a strong partner in the development of the Open Media System, which is designed to empower community members to have more control over their community media organizations. With a new Statewide Franchise system to phase-in across Texas by 2011, operational funding for Public Access TV stations is not guaranteed. In Denver, the Open Media tools have proven to enable the community members to do the majority of work that is traditionally reserved for staff. In Denver, where there are no operating funds provided for Public Access TV, community members register and pay for classes and memberships, reserve equipment, submit TV shows remotely and in the station, create accounts, profiles, and projects, produce and edit videos in the field and in our studios, and even generate the programming schedule for our 3 TV channels, without requiring staff involvement.
Besides increasing community ownership and support, the vision of the Open Media Project is to establish a new user-driven network of community media organizations, sharing best-practices, cooperating in systems development, and sharing the best noncommercial media across the globe, with all content published using Creative Commons. At SXSW we were able to catch up with CC founder, Lawrence Lessig, who had this to say about the Open Media “experiment”.
As a producer at a local NPR/PBS station for 21 years, I agree with Dr. Lessig’s critique of the way PBS currently controls access to PBS content. But don’t forget that many local stations are working to make public media truly public. We have some battles to fight along the way, sometimes including with our station management. (Happily not in my case.) It helps a lot to have open media advocates doing work like the Open Media Project, so keep it up!