In policy terms, community media are known as the “third sector” of the media. The description reflects the historical expectation that community media can fulfill a need not met by the commercial and public service broadcasters. A defining element of this “need” has been the means to production for nonprofessionals, particularly groups not represented in the mainstream media. The historical construction of community media reveals production to be a guiding principle; both a means and an end in itself. This chapter examines the various rationales underpinning community media production, including empowerment, media diversity, and the independent producer movement. Using case studies from youth media, the chapter critiques producer-centric models of community media. In the contemporary media environment, production alone cannot meet the social needs that community media were established to address. Instead, I propose a rationale that combines both production and consumption ethics.
Production is more than the day-to-day work of community media organizations. When taken to mean part of an industrial cycle, production is central to the theoretical underpinnings that have defined, and to some degree determined, how community media should be accommodated in the media landscape. Advocates have argued that the means of production should be available to all, extending community access not only to production ...