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Have you been to PubCamp? Notes from South Florida

August 27, 2010

Active in social media? A fan of public media? Interested in getting involved with your community? I answered ‘yes’ to these questions and found myself at PubCamp Miami (#pubcampMIA). I had been following tweets from #pubcamps all over the country so when I saw a notice for the event in Miami I registered immediately. As an instructional designer (and blogger) my interest was in how public media could leverage social media to educate members of the community. I was looking for possible learning initiatives and ways to get involved.

The Format

The unconference format meant no scheduled sessions. There was just one formal presentation followed by large group discussion resulting in a list of breakout groups, topics of interest, and initial thoughts on possible collaborations. The event and the projects that may develop as a result provide a way for us to volunteer and support our public stations outside of fund raising drives.

This was a two-day session at the local public radio station @WLRN. The audience was somewhat small, maybe 30-40 people, but diverse and included a mix of artists, web developers, small businessmen and women, marketing experts, educators, local and national public radio professionals, and listeners like me. The common threads were interests in social media, the local community, and local radio programming.

The Take-aways

A list of a few of the discoveries, ideas, and possible projects that emerged…

  • Public Insight Network – The Miami Herald is working with American Public Media to register local residents who are interested in providing input on stories. Over 1500 have registered so far and their responses are already being integrated.
  • Spot.us – This site encourages “community funded reporting”. You can pitch an idea for a story, take on an assignment, and help provide funding for a story you are interested in hearing more about.
    • Could this open source project be adapted at a local level?
  • Citizen Journalists – There was a lot of discussion about recent downsizing of newspaper staff and the potential impact of having members of the community cover stories to be distributed via existing outlets. What does it mean to be a “journalist”?
    • Think about local bloggers – how can they work with public media outlets to develop and broadcast local voices? Are bloggers journalists?
    • Could someone interested in working with a local media outlet be trained to provide story ideas, and even write and produce stories?
  • Social Media – One of the draws of this event was the social media piece. Participants were already involved in blogging, Twitter, podcasting, etc.
    • Can volunteers help extend the reach of public station staff via social media?
    • There is the potential to partner with other local groups and events, such as WordCamp, BarCamp, and Social Media Club to encourage participation and seek out expertise.
    • Consider a public media hosted tweet-up with an open mike format to solicit ideas for stories.
  • Community Diversity – PubCamp emphasized the fact that the local community of South Florida is an international community. How can social media be used to gain input from this community? Provide services and education to this community?
  • Funding – While volunteers can make a huge impact in terms of manpower and additional resources, funding could make that impact more substantial. The Knight Foundation gave a brief presentation outlining some of the types of grants available, the process of selection, and upcoming opportunities.
  • Supporting Local Artists – Many of the attendees were artists using social media. How could this artist community help with and be supported by PubCamp initiatives?
    • Getting the word out is a major challenge for these artists. There are multiple event calendars and many are conducting their own publicity efforts online. Could the creation of an API resource help to unite these efforts?

Getting Involved

WLRN’s request was for us to develop our ideas and submit proposals. I am meeting with two other PubCamp Miami participants next week to keep the discussion going and continue to refine ideas for possible projects.

If you are interested in getting involved, take a look at these PubCamp resources, contact your local station, and find an event in your area!

  • #pubmedia chat on Twitter, Monday nights at 8pm ET.
  • Public Media Camps – list of local events, wikis, etc. (Check out the Prezi from PubCampNC!)
  • @Pubmedia
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