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Finding out more about interdependent media

by greg macdougall

Guest speaker Corinne Mason of WAM! Ottawa: Women, Action, and the Media
Guest speaker Corinne Mason of WAM! Ottawa: Women, Action, and the Media

In the pre-school room at the Glebe Community Centre this fall, a group of people are meeting to see how they can change the world for the better -- using media.

It's a course on Interdependent Media, for six Wednesday evenings (September 19 to October 24). The topics covered range from the corporate or mainstream media and advertising culture, to alternative and independent media sources and how to make your own media, from issues with race and gender in the media, to Marshall McLuhan's theories including the famous 'The medium is the message.'

The participants, numbering around 10, come from a range of backgrounds and had different reasons for signing up for the course. They wanted to improve their media skills and know-how; they wanted to learn how to spread creative messages of social justice; they wanted to understand how media works; one participant signed up with the stated goal of 'optimism.'

Much of the course revolves around discussions, both small- and full-group, based on the understanding that everyone has valuable experiences and knowledge that they can contribute to others' understanding of issues. A few of the participants come with experience in making media: one is a radio show host with CHUO 89.1FM, another works with the Leveller community newspaper, a third has some experience in the CBC newsroom, and another does social media work for a community organization. Others are new to some of the issues being discussed, but with the way that media pervades our lives these days, all have something to contribute.

The course functions to introduce topics and ways of looking at things, helping people to learn to express their ideas in different ways and to get to know more about the perspectives from which other people are coming from. With media, much of our time is spent as 'consumers' or audiences, so it's important to create the space where we feel we have something to contribute ourselves.

Apart from the participatory in-class structure, there are weekly writing assignments, another way of expressing oneself and articulating perspective and questions to do with the issues being raised. Participants have the opportunity to submit one of their weekly writings to be included in a course booklet which will be published at the end of the course.

And course participants will also be giving presentations on the issues that mean the most to them, at a post-course Media Democracy Day celebration, Friday November 2, starting at 7 p.m. at the Octopus Books Centretown location (251 Bank St, 2nd floor). This event will be a chance for participant’s friends and families, as well as members of the general public, to get a taste of some of the learning that went on in the course.

One participant commented, “[The] course is very helpful, helps me understand myself and the power media has on my life and the alternatives.”

-- Greg Macdougall, facilitator of the course, works in alternative media and community organizing. Sign up for future workshops and courses at

This article was first published in the Glebe Report, Oct 12 2012

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