Huffpost Denver
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Tony Shawcross Headshot

Denver Open Media Celebrates Three Years of Innovation in Community Media

Posted: Updated:
Print Article

Tonight we're celebrating the 3-year anniversary of Denver Open Media with a multimedia event broadcast live on KGNU radio, online at denveropenmedia.org and on TV at Comcast Channel 56. We're also celebrating the launch of DOM's new parent organization, the Open Media Foundation, a reorganization of the various initiatives that have combined to put the power of the media in the hands of the people, in Denver and across the country.

7 years ago, a small collective born from the denverevolution.org community events calendar began producing videos for local nonprofits. With no resources, we gathered groups of individuals to produce short videos and tell the stories that were missing from the media conversation. We formed an education and training program, working with local schools and the former Public Access TV station, Denver Community Television to teach people to represent their own voice in the media. In 2005, when the city of Denver pulled funding for Public Access, we devised a new model for community media that could engage the community in sustaining the three Public Access TV channels. We designed open-source software to merge the worlds of user-generated video and traditional cable TV and later merged with Civic Pixel to offer web & design services to our nonprofit clients.

The changing media landscape has created an opportunity for innovation. We could never have imagined even 5 years ago where the Open Media Foundation would be today.
We're connected with community media organizations from across the country, working to build a new kind of democratic community media network where the volume of your voice isn't determined by the size of your wallet. The new name and website were officially announced November 19th at a fundraising breakfast hosted by Ashara Ekundayo and featuring presentations from Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now!, and Leslie Matthews, President of the OMF Board of Directors.

The Open Media Foundation is more than a new name and website, its a new and strategic way of looking at a unique movement here in Denver, aimed at transforming the conversations we have through media and technology to include more marginalized communities. The end goal is a community where every organization and individual, not only the privileged and wealthy, have the ability to engage in mass communications and reflect their own perspective in the larger social conversations that happen through media and technology. Today, over 200 local nonprofit organizations have a website or video produced by the Open Media Foundation. We train hundreds of individuals each year, and we operate 3 Public Access TV channels in Denver. In addition, the Open Media Foundation manages the Colorado Channel, a statewide version of C-Span, for the Colorado State Legislature. This year, the Colorado Channel and OMF add daily Senate coverage to the mix, after two years of broadcasting the State House of Representatives.

A number of other communities have their eyes on the work of Denver Open Media. In 2008, together with Civic Pixel, the Open Media Foundation team re-built the software that transformed Denver's Public Access TV station into a constituent-led, Net 2.0 media hub, and made it available to anyone through Drupal.org. Dubbed the Open Media Project, this year we have helped to install the software and innovative community media model in 7 beta test stations from Boston to Portland. New partners continue to join every month, including Free Speech TV and the Bay Area Video Coalition's new endeavor, SF Commons, all looking to contribute to the open-source software that could help unite noncommercial media institutions as a new kind of user-driven media network.

Early next year, OMF plans to release the Open Media Project software as a new kind of free software package, a "Packaged Drupal Installation Profile" being designed with support from the Drupal Association and fellow Knight News Challenge winner, Quiddities. At the same time, the Open Media Foundation will receive word on the $2.2 million stimulus grant requested through the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, aimed at extending the Open Media Project with 20 new community media partners. The final stage of the Knight News Challenge grant concludes in 2010, with a focus on content sharing among the Open Media Project beta test stations, enabling the new network to feature the best in noncommercial user-generated media from across the nation.

You're invited to join the Open Media Foundation as we celebrate these and other accomplishments tonight, Dec 4th at the 3-year anniversary of Denver Open Media. The festivities will be shared live on Denver Open Media, Comcast Channel 56, online at denveropenmedia.org/livestream, and on the radio via KGNU 88.5FM-Denver and 1390AM-Boulder. The free event will feature musical performances from Sole and Itchy-O and interviews with a number of Open Media Foundation partners and members.