Innovate to Adapt and Respond

It is the pragmatic advice of the Greek philosopher Epictetus:                                                                                            “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” 

The WPAA-TV governance team believes that staffing changes at WGTV create opportunity. The 20-21 town budget is pregnant with possibility for a collaborative plan to move forward with less cost to the taxpayer. The reactions of leadership to the opportunity is what matters.

Policy and Funding


Kinde Next| Storytelling Matters

I thought about writing a memoir three time. The first, Kindle Next, would have focused on my introduction to advocacy work predominantly during my VISTA enlistment. Rich In Mercy was to be about a life derailed by mental illness and a spiritual rescue. Unfortunately, that untold story was more like a tested hypothesis that does not prove to be well grounded in reality. The in progress book project, Citizen Media Maven|The Life has three sections: Discovery, Bloom and Maven. This time the writing effort has a bigger reason for being. I want to kindle curiosity in the reader about citizen media storytelling.

If publishing comes to pass, proceeds will go to the Endowment Fund Freeman’s Purse. The investments are managed by the Community Foundation of Greater New Haven and overseen by the WPAA-TV Board.

The realization that I may not be able to be a volunteer forever became all too real at the end of 2020. However, I hope to work alongside this investment for as long as life allows.

Volunteer Executive Director and Covid-19 Survivor
Susan Adele Huizenga

Excerpt from the Preface of Citizen Media Maven|The Life
A True Tale, According to Me

To be clear, citizen media is not the sanitized read found in your local newspaper, if your community is lucky enough to still have one. Nor is it the crafted, reserved analysis or slightly outside the mainstream performances of public television. Citizen media is quirky, replete with passionate people, and often compelling in its authenticity and ‘won’t you be my neighbor’ optimism. It is the stories drafted in press releases every day but not put into the hands of journalists to dissects its worthiness, prioritizes its facts and add quotes they cultivate on a deadline to boost its newsworthiness.
My community still has a local newspaper. The Record-Journal, a one hundred fifty plus year old institution, recently rebranded with a mission to be ‘the primary catalyst that motivates people to contribute to the intellectual, civic and economic vitality of our communities.

Last CheckIf you have had occasion to submit a press release to a newspaper, this press release remastered story may ring some bells.
Our release was written by a college intern from a highly touted journalism program in the area so we did not expect a major rewrite for publication. An R-J intern, from a different college, was assigned to our story by the newspaper. A photograph of a pen in an elderly hand was sent to the Record-Journal. It accompanied a press release entitled Ten-Year Journey Ends With the Signing of a Check, subtitled, WPAA-TV Reaches Major Milestone.

The story made the print version of the paper, but not quite the way the community it was intended to represent had hoped. The article Public Access Station Pays Off Building Mortgage Early focused awkwardly on the pay-off and what it might mean for the future. It was published with an image the newspaper had on-file, an out of date picture of the building with incorrect branding in the signage.

The published article began “WPAA-TV paid off its building two years early late last month,” This was in sharp contrast to the opening statement in the release: “This week marks the end of a ten-year journey for WPAA-TV that wouldn’t have been possible without community support. On Feb. 24, Nelson Ford, the oldest volunteer and former board member, excitedly signed the final check to pay off the building located at 28 So Orchard Street.”

And so it is that every story can have many ways to be told. I can only attest that this collection of intertwining tales is true, according to me.

About the funding and the service: Lessons from Vermont

Vermont’s Community TV system is similar to Connecticut’s. The same Federal laws apply and the basics about PEG are universal.

In 1995, CT modified the PEG underwriting and regulator management. CT was one of the first states to move to statewide franchising. This benefited the cable providers enormously had as left much of the provision of services locally frozen in time. Part of the landscape is approximately $20,000 annually being dispersed to No. Branford, Guilford and Madison. I mention this because the VT report looks at how mergers may be optimal under some circumstances.

One critical difference between CT & VT is a Gross Receipts tax was put in place of which a portion goes to CT General Fund.
Another is that capital expenses (equipment, not buildings) can be partially underwritten in a grant like process in CT(PEGPETIA) that does not allow for optimal pricing of purchases and is unpredictable in its administration since 2008. WPAA-TV believes this arrangement is an abridgement of Federal Law.

Since 2009, WPAA-TV Board expended 100s of thousands of dollars to purchase and renovate a building siphoning operation funds and relying on volunteer staffing to achieve the strategic goal of a permanent sustainable home that adds to the community in more ways than providing citizens with media resources. #MoreThanTV

The use of rights of way for more than TV and the lack of equitable PEG payment in lieu of taxes by all tech services providers leveraging the (telephone) polls for profit is a nation-wide condition.

The linked story includes a podcast link.

This is your story all who have used WPAA-TV.

BTW: Thanks for being part of #TeamHercules

And, then

Many communications have come across my desk with this message: We all had plans for 2020. And then COVID-19 happened.  But we at #wpaatv carried on. Innovated. Connected to the conversations about how to be inclusive and more!

Here is our video report to look back at the year. It includes a description with how to connect with us and support local business.  If you watch and connect thru this almost instant win contest you and a local restaurant will be winners.

Weekdays & Sundays

We scheduled fitness classes, story time in animation and more traditional readers and illustrated books. We provided updates on COVID-19 with a global perspective weekdays. We added new content from folks publishing with virtual tools.

Spiritual Communities on TV

And support for local churches in our Same Day Sunday Tradition expanded. Soime say call community TV “Church TV’. During the pandemic it was our pleasure to be such an important community connection for those who are less internet savvy in our community or just wish to hear the music and messages again. We feature the mood of our times with excerpts from First Congregational Church-UCC in our annual report. Rev. Kathy Burbank Cunliffe expressed well what so many were feeling.

Opportunities to support creativity and local business

We modified our movie challenge adding the 1-shot and oral story telling. We had three LIVE music series supporting CT musicians and those who missed getting out to listen. And the Outlook 06495 image contest had some inspiring winners. As Told Here podcasts from archived conversations feature Wallingford People and other important evergreen topics. Some of it worked. Some of it did not.

We continued #SocialActionArt for those in need with the No-Expiration Date #StreetshotZ

It is 2021 Join US

Civil Rights & MLK: Remembrance and Media

Excerpt Citizen Media Maven _ The Life

Real change requires risk and going against the status quo. It comes with discomfort and sometimes confrontation.

It might be a cruel illusion, but I live every day guided by You were put here for a reason the belief that community TV in a suburban community near the city of my maturation is indeed justice work, the work Dr. King intended many of us to have. Since leaving the city that gave bloom to my curiosity, I venture into New Haven whenever possible in the company of my son, poet, playwright and educator, Josiah Houston.

I was a city of New Haven resident on the first Martin Luther King Holiday, a neighbor of John C. Daniels who would become the first black mayor nearly a decade later. In this city divided, economically stagnant and challenged by the crack epidemic, housing shortages, crime, and racial strife, I had become a civic leader and an activist as President of the League of Women Voters of New Haven. It was during this time that, unintentionally, I became acquainted with public access television.

For over fifty years, the country as a whole has wrestled with the movement and legacy of Dr. King. I was 14 when King was assassinated. The television in our house was in color unlike when President Kennedy was shot. It began to feel like assassinations of leaders and stories of war in distant places were part of the fabric of America. Robert F. Kennedy had yet to fall. He would attend the funeral of Dr. King.

My dad had finally given up on his idea of a full-fledged civil preparedness bunker, but when the news reported riots he seemed ready to repurpose the cellar bunker for other unknowns. It is hard to imagine what school shootings and heightened security measures for entering schools today make fourteen-year-olds feel Dead students are much more personal than assassinated leaders.

Early television and public access television have eerie similarities in appearance—public access often still looks and feels much the same—however, public access never had a much-trusted voice like broadcast news had Walter Cronkite. Unconsciously, my journey with what my dad called my life’s work began the day Dr. King was shot. I was transfixed as many were with the announcement and updates on the ‘murder’ of this well-respected leader. But, hearing Dr. King mention the First Amendment made history lessons feel astonishingly connected to my life.

CBS Evening News Breaking Report: The ever-trusted Walter Cronkite appears in color in a ‘Just in Live TV’ report. As his eyes dart about for cues from the production crew he adjusts his suit jacket collar. In his well-modulated, unemotional voice he reads the scripted announcement from a paper in his hands:

“Dr. Martin Luther King, the apostle of nonviolence and the civil rights movement, has been shot to death in Memphis, Tennessee,” Cronkite said. “Police have issued an all-points bulletin for a well-dressed, young white man seen running from the scene.” … He reports that in a companion’s words, “The bullet exploded in his face.”

The story facts and carefully selected adjectives speak volumes: the Nobel Peace Prize winner; the turbulent racial situation; on the scene almost immediately; high powered hunting rifle; dusk-to-dawn curfew; 4,000 national guardsmen Will my dad be called-up? They rushed the 39-year-old Negro leader to a hospital where he died of a bullet wound in the neck. Police report that the murder has touched off sporadic acts of violence in a Negro section of the city. Cronkite trips over the word violence That is how he spoke of being mobilized for military action.

After referring to sporadic acts of violence in a Negro section of the city, CBS cuts to President Johnson expressing the nation’s shock “… Saddened by the brutal slaying tonight of Dr. Martin Luther King, I ask every citizen (the president looks down to read more and concludes) to reject the blind violence that has struck Dr. King who lived by nonviolence.”

Returning again to Walter Cronkite reporting on the assassination, the story is crafted to ask and answer the question as to why Dr. King was in Memphis, suggesting King was “determined to prove that he could lead a peaceful mass march in support of striking sanitation workers most of whom are Negroes.” In another cut-away to news footage from the prior day, Dr. King appears mid-speech, “Maybe I could understand the denial of certain basic First Amendment privileges because they haven’t committed themselves to that, over that,” King said. “But somewhere I read of the freedom of assembly. Somewhere I read of the freedom of speech. Somewhere I read of the freedom of press. Somewhere I read that the greatness of America is the right to protest for rights.” The audio track cuts off the crowd’s enthusiastic reply as CBS news producers cut back to Walter Cronkite who echoes the President’s reference with “shock across the nation.” He mentions a place well-known to people like me. A place where black people live: Harlem. Then, the subtle spin. An anonymous quote of a young person in Harlem, “Dr. King didn’t really have to go back to Memphis. Maybe he wanted to prove something.”

It has become routine for WPAA-TV to  … The station is closed for the day. We rarely close.

Remembrance seems to make the media world a remix. Dr. King’s face is ubiquitous on the Internet. Quotes and misquotes characterize the man. Facebook is afloat in memes. Politicians, justice workers and pseudo evangelists for people’s rights post some quotes I am not denying that it is hard to eke understanding out of days of reflection and possibly action. Like his initials, MLK celebrations are simplified, peaceful, non-threatening, and most important to the program organizers, they must be digestible I could even say shallow.

As reported in our town’s newspaper, our Mayor is once again the keynote speaker Using the ceremony to parent the community as the benevolent dictator he sees himself as.

Let me share some history here. The state began recognizing Dr. King’s birthday as a holiday in 1973, 10 years before President Reagan signed the Federal law declaring the third Monday in January as the designated holiday. In 2000, a bill submitted by Wallingford’s State Representative to officially recognize the holiday statewide, became Connecticut Law. The only community not already doing so was Wallingford. Paid days off and this holiday was central to a multi-year dispute between the Town and its workers’ union. As Rev. Jesse Jackson said, referring to our Mayor’s resistance to recognizing the King Holiday, ”Maybe he hadn’t gotten the word. But he has got the word now, and the law, and I think he’ll do the right thing.”

The following year, the last of the longstanding inclusive commemorative MLK Day morning services sponsored by the clergy association welcomed a standing room only crowd. The first town-sponsored ‘remembrance’ to honor the civil rights leader with the Mayor presiding was the same day at noon at Town Hall. Wilbert Lawrence “Robby” Robinson, a town resident who founded, and led until his death, the new Wallingford Coalition for Unity was involved in the planning. For the next thirteen years, Robby interacted with the Mayor in supplicant fashion, as he himself described it to me “… it is more important to me that our youth know about Dr. King. I just wanted to make things better and to rid my hometown of its very bad reputation. It is not about me.”

Robby was in the crowd at the March on Washington shoulder to shoulder with believers in nonviolence, experiencing the ether of the ‘I have a Dream’ speech first hand. He was now living as Martin said of that dream “sometimes it is a nightmare” as a black man in Wallingford.

“I think one of the best things that happened to this town—and it’s a sick way of saying it —is Matt Hale (founder of the white separatist group, World Church of the Creator), coming here, or at least his feeling that this was a place he could be … It really got people to open their eyes, to look and think. To think about how members of the KKK could march by our Town Hall.”

In 2015, Robby was honored during the annual MLK commemorative event. I attended and heard once again, for myself, a deep lack of understanding about the struggles for decency and equality then, and now. The Mayor spoke about Rosa Parks, “Would we have been there? What would we have done? … Had this surfaced today, let it be known that his message is not forgotten.”

Mr. Mayor, the message must be heard not to be forgotten. It is not about slaves and stories about the back of the bus. It is about the promise of a decade of open struggle to break the barriers of ‘legal’ segregation to attain citizen rights followed by the ongoing, to this very moment, struggle for equity.

The Mayor is speaking to his choir. Robby, this is not good enough.

In 2020, the Mayor chooses to reflect on the life of orator Frederick Douglass relating Douglass’ courage to Dr. King’s in their respective struggles for abolition and for civil rights roughly 100 years apart. It is reported the Mayor said, “He (King) didn’t grow up a slave, but he recognized what the problem was, and through peaceful living and example brings us to the point to just follow the truth.” Again he entwined his milquetoast world views peppered with slavery stories and avoided the truth of our times. Martin did grow up with a knowing quite different than his own.

Among the commemoration highlights were essay readings by three local high school students. This portion is what had disappointed me most in the past when with camera in hand Which meant a bit of optimism, I did go to the Town Hall ceremony. In our town, authorized events coverage is in the purview of the Mayor and when covered it is to be handled by Government TV, the channel he controls. Since I believe that every story can have many tellers and points of view, as with the day Rev. Jackson came to town, and that exposure to the many stories best informs our ‘knowing,’ I brought a camera along. However, each time the essays were so unremarkable, the video I captured never even made its way to the pending queue for production. I erased it, thereby distancing myself from the experience I do not want to uplift the shallows.

It is Tuesday, shortly after 9:00 PM, and our longest-running WPAA-TV show is airing. Host, Citizen Mike, has actively journeyed in our community media space since 2010. The voice I hear is familiar but it is not the voice of Citizen Mike. The stand-in host, a current Town Councilor says, “I think the Mayor did an excellent job at the Martin Luther King ceremony.” The guest, another Town Councilor, replies, “I agree.” They each call out the strengths of the Mayor with such community gatherings and speeches.

I immediately go in my head to that place that anything about the Mayor makes me go. It is a dark place full of suspicion. I am not a fan. I am someone he wishes never stepped foot into ‘his’ community If only there were a video of the Mayor’s speech which I could play, a video that could inform my sensibilities about my hometown. I am left to wonder ‘what would MLK do?’ recalling the “What Would Jesus Do?” the book which popularizes WWJD bracelets and other paraphernalia meant to be a reminder to act in ways that personified Jesus and his teachings. Would he remind me that “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” Do I need to reread A Testament of Hope, to stay the course, to avoid the temptation to subvert my own work?

I am certain that unlike these students with search and find quotes and no deep dive into meaning, the Mayor did not need Snopes’ advice on Dr. King’s quote accuracy. Being the technophobe that he is, and likely yet to be a cherry popped Google–Virgin, his Amishness sheltered his access to ‘The 201 best … the 17 inspiring … the 123 most powerful … and the 31 MLK quotes that can inspire the greatness in you! Google’s code of conduct is “Don’t be evil,” but the Mayor believes technology is And without digital literacy, it can be.

While I cannot prove it without video capture of the ceremony, I am near certain the Mayor did not represent Dr. King’s vision of citizenship: voting rights, a living wage, adequate housing, access to health care, and excellent and racially integrated education.

Indeed, the community I serve is proof that we can commemorate Dr. King on the one hand and eviscerate his legacy on the other. Remembrance is not just for storytelling to demonstrate that we have a collective past Collective here, with intent. It is not about slavery or reparations. It is not about the past. It is about being in our own time, with awareness, waging contemporary battles. Dr. King called the American racial revolution, a revolution to ‘get in’ rather than to overthrow. It remains so, in our own time. Dr. King intimated the need not only to see injustices but understand how we all participate in them. Constantly asking himself, Where Do We Go From Here, he answers, “We cannot afford to make these choices poorly … the issue is injustice and immorality.” We can and must consciously do something to change within and around us. Even using this day as a day of service is a digestible cop-out that distracts. If inoculated with a mild form of commitment, thus immune to genuine moral injustice, there can be no transformation.

And then in an Aha moment, …

Our Bones Are Good – What Is Next

Our Bones Are Good | The governance team has spent the past decade on barn-building. They focused on the property acquisition, renovation and installation of technology tied to the mission. In 2020, we are pivoting toward long term sustainability of the operation. The infrastructure of people and finances and the connection between both. This may be more challenging than transforming a barn into a community space but with the dedication of the core team we intend to be in a better position to serve what we hope will be a more engaged community.

As was the case across the globe, the year 2020 was not experienced as intended. Our 2020 goals were to be relevant for our times, to empower our brand and to evolve as #MoreThanTV. Unlike many stations across the nation that had a hiatus for several weeks or months, we were busier than ever immediately, just differently. We adjusted our programing to include replay of remote spiritual services expanding the churches involved weekly, added predictable viewing for silver sneakers level fitness programs and Storytime for those under age seven. We provided alternative video production tools for local producers that could not safely use the studio. We hosted a LIVE music series in support of CT musicians and sponsored contest with prizes from local businesses. And our producers represented our community with eight winning production in the Alliance for Community Media New England Video Festival exploring topics such as child trafficking, inclusion, homeschooling and nonpartisan get out the vote as well as wins in performance categories. We also successfully transition our three college interns to remote work that enabled them to meet graduation internship requirements. We added the ‘As Told Here’, the podcast, extending the way some our most powerful stories could be experienced by the community.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, WPAA-TV had a calendar filled with people-gathering events: drum circles, improv theater, performances, writers’ groups, gallery visits and open houses. We did not foresee the ubiquitous and Internet replacing our success in becoming a public space with virtual meeting tools.

Few singular events change a world view. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, I believed that what the Internet could not be, or easily replace, was the potential to meet and gather in person, teach, discuss and share what is local based on the reasonable needs and interests of a community. Then the socially starved world experienced the rise of the racial justice movement in rallies, protests and online conversations creating more community engagement opportunities than community TV could envision supporting.

2020 has been nothing but evolutionary, eclipsing 1965: the bridge in Selma Alabama, the race riots in Watts, The Voting Rights Act, Vietnam War, Medicare, the Gemini Space Program, Mini-skirts and CT imposing a 9% Gross Income Tax on cable companies that was still being adjudicated in 1990 before the FCC. (Is my age showing here?)

As people gather virtually, there is a palpable hunger to engage in person. So what is the real and future need for physical spaces to make media? There is a need for youth to discover, learn and experiment interactively with technology, and elders to stay connected inter-generationally in a public space. Locally WPAA-TV and Community Media Center is preparing to be that public space. We are not yet all we can be but our bones are good and we are planning for the future.

StreetshotZ No Expiration Date

A #NoExpireDate #SocialActionArt Project
Feeding and housing our neighbors by inspiring your donations with art gifts.

You can receive #StreetshotZ, the photo book, for your generous support of housing or food insecure programs serving our community. Two ways to help: PDF or Photobook Options.

PDF: Send a copy of your thank you letter to from any of these organizations.

or places in your community like Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen in New Haven DESK or a local agency near you. We will reply with a pdf download link.

Photobook: A perfect coffee table book and conversation starter. A contribution of $225 will be a $70 donation to three organizations. WPAA-TV disburses all donations except for a small portion dedicated to book reprint (that is how we keep this going). Send an email to to make arrangements. Donations can be processed via the donate button on the website or directly via this link  PayPal  Check payable to WPAA-TV can be mailed to 28 S Orchard St. Wallingford CT 06492.

Thank You

What is #StreetshotZ? A one of a kind collection of evocative photographs by Charles Buzinsky. The book includes images featured in the gallery at #wpaatv.

What gallery visitors say:

“Extremely moving. ”
“Thanks for letting me see differently, to see the people I pass on the street. To actually see them.”
“These photos are pictures of souls”
“Great work”
“You, Charles, are an inspiration. I see inspiration.”

These photos can not be sold, correct? Correct!

It is wonderful that they can be shared to raise money for worthy causes helping homeless and hungry people. Good luck with sharing this photobook to help do the work of helping our neighbors.

Thank you.

#InformationLiteracy Resolution

Leaning in to our birthright and purpose. Resolution adopted 10.5.2020

WHEREAS, Wallingford Public Access Association, Inc. (WPAA-TV and Community Media Center), a non-profit 501©3 operating in the Town of Wallingford CT as the designated Cable Access Provider since July 28, 1993 [as reaffirmed by the franchising authority in Docket #08-04-09 in accordance with CT. Agencies Regs. §§ 16-331a-1 to -13 Community Access Support – Definitions]; and

WHEREAS, the primary obligation established in CT. Gen. Stat. § 16-331a is stewardship of the resources for meaningful community access; and

WHEREAS, meaningful community access requires the technical, managerial and financial support of citizen media inclusive of production facilities, equipment, and training for the development of content for community TV channels; and

WHEREAS, the franchising authority in Docket No. 99-10-05 codified that Cable Access Providers are the vehicle for these requirements to reach the community served; and

WHEREAS, the organization’s mission envisions empowering people to meet their own communication needs by facilitating creation of media; and

WHEREAS, as a member organization of the Alliance for Community Media we do our work under the guiding principles of promote free speech, expand civic engagement through local media, and ensure the people can seek redress of their grievances; and

WHEREAS, community media advocates c. 1960 pursued First Amendment Rights legislation to provide for a meaningful opportunity for citizens to convey diverse messages with access to the mass media; and

WHEREAS, the subsequent emergence of Internet speech suggests access to mass media is no longer the essential opportunity for preservation of robust and egalitarian debate among diverse voices; and

WHEREAS, the content created for distribution on the designated channel has more reach in the secondary distribution of the Internet and social media; and

WHEREAS, disinformation has always existed but the unprecedented communication power of the Internet and social media, linguistic virility (misinformation spreading quickly from person to person behaving like viral mechanisms) has reached epic proportions; and

WHEREAS, as far back as the 1980s, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) identified the need for the public to be trained to critically evaluate the media and more recently the UNESCO Information Literacy Group (2018) defined Information Literacy as “the ability to think critically and make balanced judgments about any information we find and use. It empowers us as citizens to reach and express informed views and to engage fully with society; and

WHEREAS, digital literacy builds upon media literacy inclusive of practices that allow people to access, critically evaluate credibility, examine, comprehend and create or manipulate media with an understanding of tools such as computers, social media, and the Internet; and

WHEREAS, for our purposes, information literacy is inclusive of digital literacy (the ability to find, evaluate, and compose information on various digital platforms using technology) and media literacy,  (the ability to understand the difference between creative expression, reporting, commentary, opinion, analysis, fact and fake); and

WHEREAS, civic engagement by citizen media makers necessitates information literacy training to enable the production of media in an ethical manner (thereby not contributing to threats to the quality of public discourse).

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that WPAA-TV and Community Media Center interprets its charge to provide access to resources and training for development of content for community TV channels that incorporates the principles and tools of information literacy; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that media and information competencies are a means of promoting inclusion, cultural diversity and citizen engagement in areas of justice and equity; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that everyone is a stakeholder in the struggle for better information access, social cohesion, and democracy; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that WPAA will embrace civic initiatives that Engage, Educate, Equip, and Empower citizens to Expose misinformation or Exemplify the values and tenets of professional news gathering and information dissemination

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, WPAA will strive to provide production training equivalency from pre to post-production such that interview techniques, story structure, presentation of data in images, style awareness (news vs. opinion) copyright | fair use and production knowledge, use of a camera, audio, lights, editing are resourced.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, WPAA will strive to increase the number of digitally literate residents in Wallingford, persons who possess a variety of skills, technical and cognitive, required to find, understand, evaluate, create, and communicate digital information in a wide variety of formats, and use these skills to communicate with the general public to actively participate in civic society and contribute to a vibrant, informed, and engaged community.


Information Literacy According to Freeman

All of us carry bias. Our beliefs and opinions are influenced … When we first meet someone, we already have a narrative we tell about them, just by looking at them.  DANA STACHOWIAK Literacy Now

Acts of Journalism, Acts of Literacy

Journalists must check their biases daily As best they can. The Fourth Estate Journalism Code of Practice sets forth principles and practices for fairness and accuracy, accepted sources All too often the power brokers and balance Often troubling. These principles and practices are a necessary awareness for people engaging in ‘acts of journalism.’ Reporting tells about events, situations, and in a watchdog role, problems. Framing and social empathy elevate newsgathering to the “Seek truth and report it” ideals meant to enlighten the public. What the public deems to be true is seen as necessary for justice and the foundation of democracy and fundamental to the role of journalism.

Australian journalist, editor, and educator  Alan Sunderland suggests that the most obvious change in journalism is that it is no longer solely the preserve of the professional journalist. He is working on an updated code that can serve people committing themselves to acts of journalism every day as they work to inform their communities about matters of public interest.

Our existence is an experiment in democracy.

Citizen journalism is part of our birthright.

Discerning Reliable Information in All that is Freely Spoken is Challenging

What is free speech? Is it a prayer, picture, song, rap, poem, story, tweet, blog, flag, bumper sticker, money Campaign financing, or video Even video captured via smartphone? Is it what a politician says to followers, a preacher to congregants, a conversation at dinner, a lesson in a classroom, a made-for-TV movie? Is it strictly related to the First Amendment, and therefore, the role of government? Should the message, method of delivery, and speaker, each be subject to scrutiny? Can comingling perceptions about the speaker and the method of transmitting a message heighten one’s sense of the message’s believability? Is government, when engaging in crowd control, as people exercise their right to assemble, obligated to ensure equity of viewpoints for those choosing to assemble? Sometimes rights compete, and that is never simple.

Is it saying whatever comes top of mind: what a bully, robber, abuser says to a victim? Or is it intentional speech? How is truth-telling, and the source of truth, important to the discourse on truth in the modern world? Debates among the early Greeks found a correlation between belief and truth for the teller, and the listener’s perceptions of the teller’s morality a potential danger to democracy. In contrast, some posited that evidentiary truth, inclined toward science and fact-finding, may better serve a democracy founded on the exercise of power by the people, equal before the law. Their word for free speech which ranged in meaning from chatter to truth depending on its usage was “parrhesia.” This text presented by French philosopher Michel Foucault in his discourse on the problems of truth, argues that parrhesia is a risk to democracy.

Greeks: Democracy … is condemned to give equal place to all forms of parrhesia … Because parrhesia is given even to the worst citizens, the overwhelming influence of bad, immoral, or ignorant speakers may lead the citizenry into tyranny, or may otherwise endanger the city. Hence parrhesia may be dangerous for democracy itself.

Foucault: Thus this problem … of a necessary antinomy between parrhesia—freedom of speech—and democracy, inaugurated a long impassioned debate concerning the precise nature of the dangerous relations which seemed to exist between democracy, logos, freedom, and truth.
Source: Parrhesia and the Crisis of Democratic Institutions: Discourse & Truth, Problematization of Parrhesia – Six lectures given by Michel Foucault at the University of California at Berkeley, Oct.-Nov. 1983

A long, long time ago, civil discourse—person to person, face to face, or in a letter—became public predominantly by rumor A custom kept alive by my grandmother in a small town in Vermont. The printing press modified speech by both expanding the audience and ceding power to those in control of the tools. Speech to more than one person at a time is about access: the right to assemble Now with social distancing, media ownership, and rules of engagement. For example, the perils of a hot mic and not yelling fire in a crowded place.

In the digital age, free speech is morphing once again. There are more challenges for those of us committed to the ideals underpinning this freedom. For advocates, free speech is broader than a constitutional right. Speaking freely embodies the concept of speaking truthfully and boldly, while aware of the obligations and risks. Most advocates embrace the idea that the absence of speech to counter radical views is dangerous for all, but few would suggest they are absolutists, putting individual speech above all else. In a Free Speech Center article, September 30, 2020, David L. Hudson Jr., professor, attorney and first amendment scholar, wrote that even Justice Ginsberg, “…balancing First Amendment rights against a variety of other interests,” sometimes supported “opinions that did not favor First Amendment claimants.” Some countervailing rights were copyright, discrimination, and situationally qualified immunity, putting safety first, also part of the ethical standards of journalism.

“For the most part, those are our ideals, our treasured First Amendment and the notion that in our nation we are many and yet we are one … “

Source: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Feb. 2017) In a discussion moderated by NPR’s Nina Totenberg and co-sponsored by the Newseum and the Supreme Court Fellows Association in Washington.

Many endorse inclusive and reflective discourse. St. Ignatius, founder of the Jesuit Order and an influential figure in the missionary, educational, and charitable works of the Roman Catholic Church, suggested that reflection entails removing oneself from the situation to look at it independently and objectively. Objectivity is an essential tool in a world full of information in all forms inclusive of disinformation which is intended to mislead and in the case of government would be called propaganda. The prevalence of disinformation was a significant precursor to our review of our role and adoption of a #LiteracyInformation Resolution.

WHEREAS, disinformation has always existed but the unprecedented communication power of the Internet and social media, linguistic virility (misinformation spreading quickly from person to person behaving like viral mechanisms) has reached epic proportions …

Before the nearly universally accessible Interweb of commerce and resources, people depended on public libraries to search for information or conversations with elders. Today, reliable information is available with equal footing to the cancerous misinformation, disinformation, and ‘spin’ information by vested interests. Equal footing necessitates tools for discernment Some would save the word discernment for understanding if one is called to a life of faith. It is difficult, even challenging, when thoughts and prayers are inadequate.

Misinformation causes real harm to people’s lives, health, finances and to democracy. We need good evidence on how to tackle it. | Media and Information Literacy Research  FullFact Briefing 2.2020 supported by Luminate

Recognizing the challenge and the peace of mind that come with understanding, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) provides media and information literacy resources that align UNESCO’s mandate to “promote the free flow of ideas by word and image”. The higher goal is ‘Building peace in the minds of men and women’ Not the peace that surpasses all understanding.

#InformationLiteracy Initiative

Community TV is not the media. It is a resource for citizen media makers, some who may strive to commit to acts of journalism. It is a public resource for expression which may also be seen as necessary for justice and democracy. Both creators and consumers are to be encouraged to confront their assumptions about how the world works. It is the responsibility of creators to release accurate material, and it is the duty of consumers to be aware of what sources can be relied on and what contents can be trusted as well.

The purpose of our #InformationLiteracy initiative is to help efface biases in our communities at-large where there may be strongly held non fact-based opinions being espoused. There is always more than one truth, but democracy works best when many truths are heard for the purpose of governance.

Community TV Creation Story

Community TV organizations are committed to providing the tools & stage for free speech. However, the roots in our creation story are entwined with the lack of opportunity for some stories to be told. Our existence is an experiment in democracy. Citizen journalism is part of our birthright.

Advocacy for the underserved voices, first-person stories, and local stories is at the heart of our movement, not, “I have an opinion. I deserve a stage and a microphone” To amplify that opinion. Similar to our constitutional founding fathers, advocates have concerns about balance, power and representation. Unlike our founding fathers, citizen media advocates are a rainbow of representation. Advocates believe that communities can come together when they can identify shared values and reach a consensus on concerns and representative responses. This belief is the democratic bedrock of community television.

Community TV: Public, Education and Government Access

WPAA-TV is not a news organization or a media production house. It is a regulated community resource charged primarily with enabling pubic access television. The public access aspect of Community TV is about enabling citizens to be media makers.

In 2007, regulators expanded the role of WPAA to include aspects of Education and Government access television. Education access was intended to be a platform for distance learning and a resource for media education. Government access, a public affairs venue, was to provide transparency on the actions of the government on behalf of citizens with gavel-to-gavel production of government meetings and public hearings. WPAA was also to be a resource to provide the community with updates on the actions of government from elected officials and civil servants.

Media Training in Community TV Organizations

Exemplification Do as I do is one method of improving literacy. Freeman social media posts selected to exemplify substantive and accurate analysis will include the hashtag #Information Literacy. Selected articles, research or opinion pieces are meant to tackle trending misinformation. Expected topics—justice, health, and government action—are those most often connected to purveyors of social engineering or fraud. Criteria for selection of content to be redistributed in the #Information Literacy are reliant on research, data, primary sources, relatively unknown facts and triangulated with credible sources.

The design of future producer training will strive to provide equivalency with pre- and post-production knowledge. Basic understanding of what differentiates content, i.e., news vs. opinion, ethics, issues, and challenges; objectivity in representing reality; and practices such as labeling, citing sources, and other efforts to be transparent will be part of pre-production training. We will go a step beyond design, setting a tone with elements such as the use of color, metaphors, and typeface appropriate for the subject matter to accountability, responsibility, and intent.

Although documentaries are constructs of truth, they can reveal conspiracies or be conspiracies. Style choice and execution can amplify the credibility of any production, even those produced with the intent to bend the truth.

Technical challenges with audio or video could keep a story from community TV distribution. This is less so with content. Content cannot be censored if it complies with being noncommercial, is not slanderous or obscene. Since lack of technical viability has the highest likelihood to prohibit content distribution and comes with a substantial learning curve, technical training is foremost in preparing prospective users as citizen media producers.

Content can be improved, not censored. Training can improve watchability. The media makers’ goal, after all, is not making media as much as it is having their voices heard. Therefore, from the onset, community TV organizations were actually required to provide training. For decades that training has been of the ‘lights, camera, action’ variety, and post-production editing.

Our Spiritual Communities Inspire Me

A Tradition of Service
WPAA-TV has done its best to carry on our decades-long tradition of sharing faith community services as TV with the homebound. With COVID-19 many more are homebound.
Same Day Sunday #NowMoreThanEver

Since social distancing became a way of life, WPAA-TV expanded its commitment to local faith communities to share their worship experiences as Community TV. How people gather to worship has been among the changes in many lives. Among our changes were welcoming new to us communities of faith: Christ Presbyterian Church and Church of the Resurrection.

Returning to In-Person is not an option for everyone
As communities are gathering again in their physical spaces for worship, I reviewed our TV cable-casting arrangements for equity and viewing predictability. The following schedule was adopted by the participants.

Same-Day Sunday support to communities of faith has been a priority for the governance team of WPAA-TV since its inception in 1993. Board membership initially included members of local church camera crews. Having a key to the building made Same-Day Sunday possible when the production of the service required access to the tap dubbing machines and distribution tape decks.

Did you know that the longest-running program on WPAA-TV is the 8:00 AM Monday morning replay of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Sunday Service. For nearly thirty years members of the ladies guild have watched the service together as they participated in other church activities. That morning replay as well as 5:00 PM on Sunday continues to be on the schedule along with a few other long time arrangements.

The next longest-running program is the UCC-First Congregational Church of Wallingford I am not sure how long it has played at 3:30 PM, but I do know that Robert Berlepsch was the longest-serving volunteer crew for any program in Wallingford. I miss seeing him every week. For me, that was seven years of Sundays.

For decades some of the most avid users of community TV channels in the country have been faith communities or independent pastors. This is one of the few rare ways Community TV in Wallingford has been like Community TV in other towns.

I have enjoyed watching all the flavors of virtual togetherness this pandemic has brought forth within each of your faith communities.
It is personal …
Since March, providing this community support has been a 5-hour commitment rather than 3 hours. And if you know me, you know I am not a person of faith. I am however committed to community building. Supporting all of you were you gather in a community is part of that avocation.
#Staywell #KeepWatching #WeAreInThisTogether