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Weekly News From the President: WYWOTY?



Welcome to 2018!  I hope you have survived the various and sundry holiday traditions we all jointly and individually hold dear, endured bombo-genesis, and made it through a host of end-of-year lists.

My favorite of these year-end list traditions is Word of the Year (or WOTY); that defines our collective zeitgeist or a mass cultural mood or moment for a calendar length period of time.  You can find an impressive array of WOTYs on Wikipedia.

What was “hot” in 2017?  Well, according to the Global Language Monitor’s big data calculations, both “truth” and “post-truth” were both trending.  Somehow, that’s not that reassuring.

So What’s Your WOTY for 2018?

Being a hobgoblin of consistency, the North Star I follow remains “Localism.”  It seems like it’s the word of the year EVERY year for me, but perhaps that’s because it is a precious thing that our members cultivate and promote.  And it’s a function of media that seems to be disappearing before our eyes.

Today, for example, is the effective date for the FCC’s elimination of the Main Studio Rule, which has kept local employees at local broadcast stations for decades despite the explicit market logic of chain broadcasters (read here).

So I predict that in 2018 there will be MORE of a mandate for you and your colleagues to cover local events and issues because there will simply be less coverage generally of issues in your area.  And the importance of “Localism” increases for folks and institutions that care about community.
WYWOTY?  Feel free to share it on the ACM member listserv (and if you haven’t signed up for you or your organization, do so today!)

Remembering Merlyn Reineke

Right before Christmas, a host of community television people in the DC area were hit by the sad and awful news that Merlyn Reineke, the Executive Director of Montgomery Community Media, died, apparently of suicide.

I still am having problems processing this.  I had worked with Merlyn for the last decade both as an ACM member and had talked with him many times about his vision for community media in our region.  I had seen him grow MCM out of his sense of public service and concern for its future.  I’d seen him develop strong relationships with a host of community partners that relied on him and MCM for daily information.    He helped them develop as an indispensable player in Montgomery County, MD.

Through it all, I was always struck by the poise he presented to the world, and that’s part of the reason I am still dumbstruck by his death.

And while we may not get answers to Merlyn’s death, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides resources for people and communities across the country to help individuals who feel hopeless or are in emotional distress.  In some meaningful way, I hope we can collectively improve the feeling of connectedness in our communities in the year to come.

My thoughts go out to his family, friends and our colleagues at MCM in the days and weeks to come. He is missed.

Mike Wassenaar
President & CEO
The Alliance for Community Media