Why would anyone tear themselves away from the work they love to travel to a conference? Here are two essays from ACM-NE’s 2016 scholarship recipients, with their thoughts on the August 2016 national conference.
Michael L. Hendricks, Sr., is a producer at Stoughton Media Access Corporation (SMAC) in Stoughton MA. After attending the Our Town conference last August, he offered these thoughts:
First of all, I would like to thank the scholarship committee of ACM-Northeast for the tremendous opportunity of attending the 2016 ACM National Conference here in Boston. The time at this wonderful gathering was an experience I will never forget.
If I had to sum up my experience at the conference I would say that I left with the sense of empowerment by seeing and understanding the full scope of what community television has to offer. To be honest, as a producer, all I ever wanted was to create a fun and stimulating show to share with others, however what I failed to realize that with my right as a community broadcaster, I am in a position to the engage and unite the community about issues that are stirring our cities and towns.
From the first night of the conference, when the keynote speaker, Mr. John Nichols spoke, the blinders were indeed lifted from my eyes. Major media outlets are monopolized by 4 to 5 corporations and the term free speech on television is beginning to be a thing of the past… if not for community television. Community Media give voice to the local community and give citizens and unfiltered forum to discuss matters to them.
Another value that I learned from the conference was the need to encourage the next generations of TV producers. The youth today are looking for outlets to voice their opinions on topics that are affecting their culture and lifestyle. I feel that we as producers should engage and encourage young people to get involved with community media and find ways to incorporate social media into our broadcast to reach younger demographics.
Lastly, one of the key values that stayed with me from the ACM Conference was the desire to press forward and never give up on my vision. As a producer, there are times when I feel undervalued and unappreciated for the hard work and dedication that I put into my programming. However, in those moments you have to think in the back of your mind that your show is indeed making a difference. Despite the lack of public applause and or a shortage of viewers, we can never give up, despite our small beginnings. Everything that is birthed in life needs time to grow, and mature into what is it supposed to be. Therefore I know that with patience, and my growing thirst for knowledge, all of my show ideas will flourish in due season.
The ACM National Conference has not only empowered me as a producer but has invigorated myself to build my brand (Public Praise TV) and to reach out to the youth who are aspiring to be just like me… a dreamer with a camera.
Brian Knoblock is the Media Coordinator at the Community Television Network (CTN) in Portland, Maine. Although Brian is a past attendee of ACM-NE regional and JAG conferences, Our Town was his first ACM National conference. He received financial assistance from ACM-NE for this. Later in the year, he was our gracious host and collaborator for two workshops and our annual Video Festival Awards ceremony.
Overall I found the workshops to be useful. I came away with good information and action items to take back to my station. Since this was my first national conference, I wasn’t familiar with the workshop scheduling and was disappointed that all of the Thursday workshops required an additional fee. I felt that there should have been at least some free workshops on the first day.
The Keynote Address by political writer and media commentator John Nichols was right on point. His view was that democracy is in crisis and that traditional local journalism is dying. His speech was a call to action for PEG stations – that PEG stations can, and must, fill the gap.
The “Birds of a Feather” sessions were a good alternative to the standard conference topics. The one on Local Journalism was very informative and actually made me realize that my station was doing more “news” programming than I thought. Another on the Electronic Programming Guide provided me with a lot of background information about how the program guides work on a technical level.
The workshop on Emergency Management/Response gave me some ideas as to who to approach to begin integrating PEG into the city’s emergency management response plan and the session on PEG and new entrants had worthwhile tips on groups we might approach to create joint programs that would expand and extend our Public Access reach.
The “Ask the Lawyers” session on Saturday morning helped clarify a couple of questions concerning items in our Franchise Agreement.
I had carved out late Friday morning to go through the vendor area and I wasn’t disappointed. Although many of the vendors are at every conference, there was a good variety of products in many different areas. I was looking for information about switchers and studio cameras and made some good contacts for follow up.
Overall I felt the conference was well organized and things seem to run pretty smoothly.