NEWBURYPORT — The Greater Newburyport Community Media Hub is inviting local organizations and community members to join a new coalition in support of public access community media.
Like other public access community media centers, NCM Hub, parent organization of PortMedia and WJOP-LP 96.3 FM Joppa Radio, gets most of its funding through local cable PEG — public, education and government — access programming.
The money is accumulated through a fee charged on cable bills, so community cable subscribers are the primary funders of community media, Executive Director Sarah Hayden said.
As more people cancel their cable subscriptions and opt for streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, the budgets at media centers like NCM Hub are going down each year, she said.
With this in mind, through this new coalition, NCM Hub wants to emphasize the importance of public access community media centers in communities like Newburyport and ensure these centers can remain an important resource.
This means working with state and local officials to find other ways to fund these media centers and educating the public on the programming that organizations like NCM Hub offer.
Hayden said that during the COVID-19 pandemic, media centers like NCM Hub proved to be an invaluable resource to keep resident connected to what was happening in local government.
Just before the first stay-at-home order in Massachusetts in March 2020, for example, NCM Hub worked with Mayor Donna Holaday to produce the broadcast, “City Response to COVID-19.” More than 50 installments of this followed, allowing the mayor to keep residents informed on public health restrictions and COVID-19 updates.
Next year, NCM Hub will celebrate 15 years since it became a nonprofit.
Jessica Harrington, the community engagement coordinator, said this anniversary was a big inspiration for the organization to look back its history and to see how the community has engaged with public access programming over the years.
“Since 1981, Newburyport’s public access media center has filmed and distributed City Council meetings in order to ensure the community’s access to information, civil discourse and government transparency,” a press release noted.
As technology advances, NCM Hub aims to respond and adapt with it. The organization already broadcasts to the public through media platforms such as YouTube, SoundCloud and Instagram, but the technology options are constantly changing.
“The purpose of the coalition, essentially, is just to continue this dialogue about how we can continue to think about and create sustainable models for community media, here in Newburyport and elsewhere in other communities,” Harrington said.
Community media touches everyone in some way, she added.
“Anyone who really cares about equity or underserved populations — large media has really done a disservice in terms of serving underserved populations, generally,” she said.
Harrington, who is a member of the city’s DEI Alliance, said that she is hopeful that anyone who advocates for diversity, equity and inclusion to the city, also sees the value of community media in that effort.
“We are growing up in an age of technology and it’s important for everyone to be media literate,” Harrington said.
Speaking about the importance of public access community media, she said “I think that it touches people in ways that they don’t even realize until it’s gone.”
In addition to filming public meetings, Yankee Homecoming programming, sports and other community events, NCM Hub also offers an internship program, where people like Harrington started out, Hayden noted.
This gives students the opportunity to learn about technology, and to see its benefits in keeping the community informed.
One way to support NCM Hub is to schedule a tour of the studio to learn more about the organization’s programming. To learn more, call 978-961-0350.
To read and sign NCM Hub’s coalition letter, visit https://ncmhub.org/coalition.
Staff reporter Heather Alterisio can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 978-961-3149. Follow her on Twitter @HeathAlt.