Old media declines … social communication entrepreneurs emerge

Conversations at the Euromeduc media literacy conference in Bellaria, Italy, confirmed for me that the story of media change is similar throughout Europe – on the one hand decline of some traditional big players, particularly newspapers, and on the other the increase in media created by individuals and small groups. I also heard about work in community media centres in Holland similar to that developing in the UK.

I first talked to two people who have a good overview of what’s happeningin local media. Peter de Groot teaches media economics, while Simon Strömberg works in the field for the Culture Administration in Stockholm. Both are also involved in the Media Coaches network that trains teachers, librarians, health workers and others to help children, parents and others use the web.
I was particularly interested in the implications for journalists seeing their jobs disappear, and for activists in local communities creating their own blogs and online communities. In the UK local activists are being supported by Talk About Local and Community Voices.

The message from Peter was clear: journalists entering the profession – or aiming to stay in it – have to work across media and be capable of working in print, radio, video, online and with mobile devices.
Simon says the see the rise of the communications social entrepreneur: young people working on their own or in small companies who may take on a mix of roles … sometimes journalist, sometimes doing other work. While they may be operating in the same space as the community-based activists, they are looking to earn a living rather than campaign on a particular topic. However they are all using social media that will, in different ways, bring social change.

I was able to make some connections between the work of Media Coaches working in schools and libraries, and some of the new local social media programmes in the UK.
In particular it struck me there were strong similarities between the work of some UK online centres and the community media centres in The Hague … and perhaps some connections with the work of community reporters working with People’s Voice Media in the North West. I asked Judith Heykers about her work in the centres.

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