Seven little characters made my heart beat a little faster on Friday night: #NCMR13.
The Twitter hashtag for the National Conference for Media Reform had been used enough times to constitute a “trend.” Some 2,500 conference attendees gathered April 5-7 at the Sheraton Downtown Denver Hotel to discuss the future of media.
How do big corporations shape the stories we read, see and hear? How will technology continue to change the way we emit and receive information? If the Fourth Estate is essential to a healthy democracy, what can we do to ensure its survival?
At MSU Denver Student Media, our very existence revolves around these themes. As our name suggests, we support the student voice. This is not a hollow promise or meaningless phrase in our mission statement. It is a lived reality. In the 1970s, a small group of students founded The Metropolitan newspaper, sowing the seeds for what is today known as MSU Denver Student Media. This year, about 100 students have powered our independent radio, TV, print and Web outlets.
We’re deeply committed to a central topic of the conference, diversity. We strive for diversity in our coverage and our staff. MSU Denver is the leader in educating undergraduate Coloradans and enrolls the highest number of students of color among the state’s four-year colleges. Our newsroom closely mirrors that diversity. The same is not true in newsrooms across the United States, which makes our role as a training ground and sounding board all the more critical.
To this advocate for Student Media, a hyper-local news experiment that began 34 years ago, moments at the conference were bits of fuel.
“Raise your hand if you want local, hard-hitting journalism,” shouted Free Press Events Manager Mary Alice Crim at an opening session. Hands shot up into the air. I saw each upraised arm as an affirmation that what we do from a small space in Tivoli 313 fits into a larger narrative.
Free Press is the nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that presented the Denver conference on media reform. Its President and CEO Craig Aaron told The Denver Post his litmus test comes after the conference is over.
“So much change happens through culture, so we’re hoping we’ll be able to leave behind some energy and greater awareness of these issues,” Aaron told the Post. “That’s how we’ll judge the success of the event — seeing what kinds of changes are made moving forward.”
I’d really like to carry forward the discussion on the future of media at Auraria. So, I’ve decided to use a bulletin board in our office to replicate a question posed in the same manner at the conference:
“What’s the biggest, boldest change you want to see in the media in the next 10 years?”
Since 10 years seems like a lifetime in the collegiate universe, I’m asking what change you’d like to see from Student Media in the next four years.
During a Media Reform panel, Democracy Now!‘s Amy Goodman described the media “as a huge kitchen table that stretches across the globe.” To close this entry, here are 10 ways you can take a seat at our “kitchen table.”
1. Join us, literally. Apply online throughout the month of April to be considered for our summer training program.
2. Give the gift of thoughtful consumption. Below our stories and blog entries, you’ll see a comments section. It’s rarely used, but one voice can break the “spiral of silence.”
3. Compose a letter to the editor. Send it to email@example.com.
4. Share news tip and story suggestions. If you don’t want to get out of your pajamas, use our contact form.
6. Start a radio show. Consider Rodney Dean. He studies the hotel and hospitality industry at MSU Denver. Lately, he spends most of his free time advocating for the rights of people who are physically encumbered. Along with David Klingensmith, he co-founded CIAO Radio, a show on our student-led Internet radio station, KMet, that highlights accessibility issues on and beyond the campus. If you purchase an ad in a Student Media outlet through CIAO, we’ll donate a portion of the proceeds to Rodney and David’s student organization of the same name.
7. Seek out student-produced content. Go one step further if you are an artist and submit your work to Metrosphere.org. We publish the magazine once a year in May, but review art and literary submissions for online publication year-round.
8. Launch a blog on MetNews.org. Joe Deras, a member of Politically Active Ztudents, did. The Society of Professional Journalists recently recognized his blog, “The Laughing Heart,” with an award for excellence.
9. Use MetList to pass on news and announcements to the campus community. It’s free.
10. Support continued funding of Student Media. Elected student representatives vote annually to allocate student fees, which constitute the bulk of our funding. We also receive support from advertisers and sponsors.