Collaboration & Inclusion

How do we leverage our community media resources to expand and enhance our presence in the Texas media landscape?

From Belinda Acosta, TVEye Columnist

We asked each of the facilitators to write an answer to the forum question. Here is the answer from Belinda Acosta, TVEye Columnist for the Austin Chronicle

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Before answering this question, I think it’s important to discuss what “community” is. I think there is an assumption that it means the same thing, to everyone — that those who have come together for this summit have some shared idea of “community.” While I think there may be a common impulse that draws this summit together (i.e. feeling that community media is in peril; a disdain for big media), I think where movements begin to break down is when diverse groups try to collaborate without first dissecting their assumptions.

Why, for example, are the various groups gathered for the summit not already collaborating? Why did each group emerge separate from the other? Among those at the table, who is missing? Is it merely distance, limited resources, or something else? I think understanding differences is just as important (perhaps more so) as understanding commonalities. While this sounds like a waste of time when time is fleeting, I would bet my rent money that unless this is done first, faulty assumptions will become a roadblock when the going gets rough. This is when groups break down, splinter, and at worse, become adversarial.

I know, this should all be easy, shouldn’t it? Aren’t we all in the business of communicating? Yes, well, in the perfect world that’s the way it should be. But we’ve all been living in a very imperfect world for some time now. Which brings me to the last thing to think about: power. What power do you or does your group wield? What are you willing to share? More importantly, what are you willing to relinquish? Losing power after it’s been hard won is scary for anyone. But most people are oblivious to this, assuming that if they help light someone else’s candle, their own is put out. This is particularly the case among progressives, which I imagine this summit is attracting. Try telling a white progressive they’re racist. Try telling a Chicano activist he’s sexist. Try telling an otherwise politically progressive thinking person they’re classist. While I imagine most who come together for this summit value an open media; a media landscape that is not solely focused on some big corporation’s bottom line, I believe that the question of community must be addressed with frankness, respect, and an open heart.