Community Media in Texas

Texas is home to many longstanding and emerging community media efforts. The Texas Observer has covered issues “ignored or underreported by the mainstream press” since 1954. The Pacifica Radio Network dropped anchor in Houston and created KPFT in 1970. Established in 1973, Austin Community Television was among the first public access stations in the country. In that same period, many ethnic newspapers were launched across the state.

Within the past 35 years the media environment has changed dramatically. Corporate consolidation has resulted in mainstream media representing a narrower spectrum of ideas, while the Internet’s rise has opened up new channels for citizen journalists to produce and distribute their own stories.

A new generation embraced community media in Texas in the 1990s. Free radio stations flourished for awhile in San Marcos and Austin. Indymedia websites sprouted up around the country, with locations in Austin, Houston, and North Texas. The blogosphere was important during the 2004 presidential campaigns. YouTube’s explosion and the growth of social media websites helped fill the ranks of citizen journalists and homegrown media makers.

Despite unabated media consolidation, concern about the Internet’s future, and legislation (SB5 in 2005) harmful to cable access television, people in Texas continue to find ways to produce, distribute, and consume media that is independent, diverse, creative, local, and non-commercial in nature.

The summit will begin a conversation about how community media will thrive in this state and continue to be a rich source of news, ideas, and inspiration.