President's Message | March 9, 2020

Coronavirus Outbreak

The outbreak of Coronavirus (Covid 19) is impacting our economy and all of our communities in one-way, shape, or form – and we are just at the beginning of exposure to the virus in the U.S. Here are the things I’m thinking about as I consider its impacts in your community and the need for community media:  

We should stay connected and connect others to information they need.  This is a vital service that our channels can provide to communities that are not always well connected or are getting misinformation about the dangers of the virus.  You should be in contact with emergency communications in your community and with public health information sources so you can relay appropriate information to your viewers (many of whom are vulnerable to the virus itself).  This ranges from PSAs, to emergency communications on your channel, to public affairs discussions about the virus and impacts in your community.  You are needed – and we should all rise to the challenge as best we can.
  
Listen to the concerns of staff and community members.  You should consider ways to maintain your services reasonably, or to modify what you do to eliminate unreasonable risks for your staff, volunteers and members of the community.  We work in the public – and that means you and your staff are on the frontlines of this emerging situation. I am not suggesting the you suspend equipment lending activities or shut down your access center in a panic, but if an emergency is declared in your community, you need to have a plan.  In some communities where the possibility of contact with the virus has occurred, schools have closed temporarily.  What are you doing to ensure that potentially vulnerable people are not impacted at your facility?  What are you doing to ensure that people don’t panic in an unnerving situation?  

I don’t have answers – I’m interested in your approach to the issues.  So, I’d like to invite you to share your approaches and opinions with your colleagues across the country on the ACM Listserv.  ACM is her to help us support each other – so please share your thoughts with us here.

Scholarship Opportunities

The ACM Foundation has opened scholarship competitions for the Brian Wilson Scholarship and the Emerging Leaders Institute . They are both ways to build leadership for the next generation of community media.  

The Brian Wilson Scholarship gives a $1000 to a person enrolled in media, journalism or public service fields as a way to honor and promote the values of our colleague Brian Wilson.  The ELI scholarship supports travel and scholarship costs to the two-day leadership training we are coordinating with Paula Manley and Toni Tabora Roberts.  

The best way to win a scholarship?  ENTER or encourage folks you know to apply!

Good luck!

Mike Wassenaar
President & CEO
The Alliance for Community Media