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Weekly News from the President: Be Indispensable.  

What type of information do local communities need? How can community media organizations be indispensable in the future, even in a hostile regulatory environment?

These questions were heart of the discussion at the ACM Central States and ACM Midwest/Wisconsin Community Media conferences last week.

Authors John Nichols and Bob McChesney were the keynote speakers at the Midwest Conference in Madison, WI, and they have a clear vision for the role PEG stations can play in the future – and that’s as news outlets that combat the information deserts that now surround so many small towns and cities across the United States.

Nichols and McChesney have detailed the decline of journalism in small towns across the U.S. in their book The Death and Life of American Journalism, and at the conference this past week, they issued a call for PEG operations across the U.S. to consider creating and supporting local news efforts to enliven local democracy and educate citizens.

The message: Our communities need us to respond.

It may seem like a tall task, but some of the people I met at both conferences are doing just that. They’re creating vital information that citizens rely upon. And they’re doing it in innovative ways.

Take the Sun Prairie Media Center for instance. Sun Prairie is a small town outside of Madison, WI that’s mostly known for its annual Sweet Corn Festival (mark your calendars in August). The PEG operation is a non-profit that’s based in the local school district. It’s featured media literacy education and youth programming since its inception, but in the last several years, they have begun a low power FM operation, and have begun producing local public affairs programming that’s available on their channels and on demand.

The reason? They want to be indispensable.

A big thank you to my hosts in South Bend, IN and Madison, WI this past week. It’s always great to connect with members and hear about the work we do in each community we serve!

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There’s still time to nominate leaders in our field for ACM national leadership awards, which will be presented in Boston at the ACM National Conference and Trade Show.

Leaders in our field often work for years tirelessly to effect great things in their communities. Our awards are the opportunity to recognize those sometimes quiet and always bold leaders in community media. Nominations are open through Friday. Click here for details.