by  Cao Sha, Hsu Yitien, Xu Duo

Preface

As part of the MCM program, we visited two local media in Austria, Radio Fabrik and FS1, on October 20th and November 3rd. These two media operate as radio station and television station respectively, however have a common attribute, that is, they are all community media. As for the Chinese students attending MCM program, community media is a kind of unfamiliar concept, even it already “has a development of more than 200 years in western countries and become an indispensable institution in the daily life of the citizens”.[1] Currently, community media has got some development in China. This essay will make an initial introduction on the definition, function, current and future situation in China.

Community media: a more geographical concept

When we talk about community media, we cannot avoid talking about “community”. The emergence of network endows community with a more affluent meaning, that, it “consists a group of people that have similar interests of ambitions that they share in social interaction made possible by technology, by virtual ‘cyberspace’ (Kozinets, 2010)”[2].  Nevertheless, the community we use in “community media” is a more geographical concept.

“Community media is a media founded by geographical communities, whose duty is serving the residents. It may be newspaper, radio or television.”[3] Coming to a concrete form, it can be defined like, “A community newspaper is a forum for parents to learn about the local schools, for residents to consider proposals for change, for church and civic groups to announce their doings, for neighbors to share happy times and sorrows.[4]

Many scholars also equate it with local media, such as in the book People’s Voice: Local Radio & Television in Europe.

Community media historically positioned itself as different from both commercial and government-funded media[5]. They are more local in themes, more civilian in contents, more adjacent in culture. They aim at offering service to local residents, building community and enhancing the sense of belonging. This kind of functional location is strongly related to the operation mechanism. “Community media was established to provide individuals and communities with the means to participate in the media.”[6] Take the two local community media in Salzburg as examples, they offer opportunities and equipments to everyone who wants to express him/herself. Moreover, they regularly lead workshops, to help the participants and in the meantime guarantee the quality of programs.

Community media in Chinese context: a different perspective

The definition of community media in Chinese context is kind of different. Li Liangrong, professor in School of Journalism of Fudan University, defines community media as, “ can be broadly divided into living community media, campus community media and commercial community media.[7] It is a perspective of ownership. Actually, one of the chief questions faced by community in China is the ambiguity of status and the lack of legitimacy. In the background of lack of independence, community media in China mainly adopt a method of cooperation. Local government cooperates with media to establish community newspapers. In the year 2007, municipal government in Shanghai collaborated with Shanghai United Media Group and set up the first community media in China, the community version of Xinmin evening paper, Minhang news. In the year 2015, the community newspaper program operated by Beijing municipal government and Beiqing media, founded more than 20 branches. There are also other community newspapers in coastal provinces in southeastern China, however they are illegal. These newspapers are folk attempts.

Discussion: the future of community media in China

Even though the aim of community media in China is serving local people, however its contents are not offered by the residents and doesn’t have an independent ownership, therefore it cannot be defined as community paper in a strict sense. But as it has a special status and acts a particular character while participating in “building the community” and “building the town”[8], we deem that it will have a Chinese Characteristic future. And the emerging of the public platforms on we-chat, which promote the interactivity between media and citizens, will offer a new chance for community media in China.

[1] Jia Qian, Cai Wen . The Operating Mode and Value of the Community Media in China[J]. Contemporary Communications, 2015.

[2] Ojajärvi S, Valtonen S. Newspaper and Television as Local and Community Media – Assessments By Industry Experts[J]. Journal of Media Business Studies (Journal of Media Business Stu, 2015, 9(2):129-145.

[3] Huang Wanyi. Community Media in America Under the Background of Media Converge[J]. Media, 2015.

[4] Terry T C. Community Journalism Provides Model for Future[J]. Newspaper Research Journal, 2011.

[5] Rennie E, Berkeley L, Murphet B. Community Media and Ethical Choice[J]. 3cmedia Journal of Community Citizens & Third Sector Media & Communication, 2010, (6):11-25.

[6] Rennie E, Berkeley L, Murphet B. Community Media and Ethical Choice[J]. 3cmedia Journal of Community Citizens & Third Sector Media & Communication, 2010, (6):11-25.

[7] Li Liangrong. Chinese Community Media: Building Social Living Community[J]. China Newspaper Industry, 2013, (11).

[8] Jia Qian, Cai Wen . The Operating Mode and Value of the Community Media in China[J]. Contemporary Communications, 2015.