Since September is National Literacy Month, Norfolk Community Television will be honoring it by hosting our own special version - Media Literacy Month! All month long, we will be featuring great workshops, discussions, educational documentary screenings, and open walk-in times for available to anyone who wishes to stop in and ask questions or get help on whatever media or technology issue they may have! Check out our calendar of events and come on down to any and all events you may be interested in.
To kick the month off, our very own Production Coordinator Chris Lawn sat down with NCTV Board Member and instructor Jordan Tynes to discuss his background, his involvement with the station, and his perspective on copyright issues, which he will be leading a discussion on at 6:30 PM on September 29th in the main studio!
C: How did you first get involved in media, and when did you first get involved in community media specifically?
J: I grew up in a very media-friendly household. My father was an early adopter of video technology, and I have fond memories of my friends and I creating our own short films. My mom signed me up for flash animation camp, and I built my first computer in middle school. Although I initially went to college for computer science, it did not take me long to settle into an art degree with a focus on video production. In short, media has always been a big part of my life.
It wasn't until grad school (SMFA, Boston) that I became involved with community media. Soon after moving from California to the East Coast, I started working with Cambridge Community Television, teaching evening classes on documentary film-making and a few technical workshops. It was a great opportunity to get involved with a vibrant neighborhood.
C: What brought you to NCTV originally, and how did you first discover us?
J: I moved to Norfolk about a year ago and began exploring the area shortly thereafter. NCTV was one of the first places I noticed, mostly because I was still doing a few classes with CCTV and was surprised to see a more local station. The NCTV booth at Community Day was my first opportunity to meet some of the staff and swap contact info. I stopped by the station a few weeks later and met Katy. She encouraged me to get involved by teaching a couple workshops and attending some meetings.
C: What has your experience as an NCTV Board Member been like thus far?
J: Becoming a NCTV Board Member has been a learning process. The board has seen some significant changes in the last year, which is also about the length of my tenure as a member. Getting to know my fellow board members has been great. We all contribute differently, which has led to some fruitful collaborations. The longer we work together, the more efficient and effective we become. I really enjoy the process, and I look forward to continued teamwork as a board member.
C: What are some of the classes you've taught here (or intend to teach in the future), and is there one that you especially enjoy teaching? If so, why?
J: I'm scheduled to teach one of my favorite classes at the end of September -- Copyright and Fair Use. Rather than a "teacher" in a "class," for this session I'd rather be thought of as "facilitator" in a "discussion." Anytime I get the chance, I try to allow the interests of the students to determine the trajectory of a class. This strategy usually keeps everyone engaged by building off the enthusiasm of the participants. For example, I enjoy teaching a six-session, intro-level class that asks everyone to work together to create a five to eight minute documentary about something in the neighborhood. From coming up with an idea, to filming and editing, collaboration is essential at every step. Also, because the topic is kept local, it is almost always a project that everyone can get excited about. I would really love the opportunity to facilitate this class at NCTV!
C: Why do you think media literacy is important?
J: Media is everywhere! Of course there are movies and television, but now media pops up on your computer, rings in your pocket, and even plays for you at the gas-pump. It seems like everyone I know has a hard time putting down their phones for even a few minutes - a pipeline of media in the palm of your hands.
This media saturation is a like being surrounded by a new language. A language that speaks to us every day, almost inescapably. Who is speaking this language? Are we equipped to actually understand it? In schools, we study the construction of the English language. We learn to read it, write it, control it, and criticize it. The same can be done to/with media. To do so, one must have some technical chops, but also a place to experiment with media production. Community media can be a great place to start.
At the moment, the conversation about media is relatively one-sided. Something or someone creates the media and we mostly passively consume it. This changes when more of the community explores media literacy. One can learn to watch media critically! Discussion about media will help us to understand it, and media can be made better by members of our community!
C: What first interested you in learning about issues surrounding copyright?
J: I became interested in copyright when I first learned of "fair use", which is actually a set of guidelines that can potentially grant exemption from copyright. Fair use is great, but it introduces a very messy gray area into US copyright laws. It is subject to much interpretation and regularly gets re-evaluated in supreme court cases. At its best and under very specific circumstances, fair use allows media producers to use copyrighted material in their own projects. Understanding these circumstances is incredibly important to anyone wanting to claim fair use. This is why I enjoy conversations around this topic. Participants will almost always find points of disagreement, which highlights the complexities around the issue.
C: What do you think the future of copyright will look like?
J: This is such a tricky question. For me, copyright essentially boils down to granting someone the exclusive right to make money from something they created. The internet really made a mess of this. All of a sudden, we have copyrighted material flowing freely around cyberspace. Remember Napster? Napster gave internet users access to music that normally cost a lot of money. That got shut down and now we have music streaming services (Pandora, Spotify, etc). Those services cost money or they play commercials. This is the internet getting smarter... Someone figured out a way to deliver music over the internet (similar to Napster), but now they're making money again. Also, all the music provided on these services are licensed by the copyright holder. Essentially, this is an example of how little has changed in terms of copyright. The format of delivery is changed, but the core idea is the same. Of course there are people who break these rules. There are massive ideological rifts about copyright and what should be done. Perhaps some change is on the way. If so, not too quickly.
C: Any advice or good resources for individuals who are looking to get into media as a profession and/or are currently navigating copyright issues?
J: As I've already indicated, copyright is a vast subject. I would suggest a basic understanding of fair use to anyone getting into media production. Everyone in this field should know when they are pushing the boundaries of copyright infringement and when fair use might be useful.
Surprisingly enough, YouTube has a great little introduction to copyright and fair use. I'd highly recommend checking out their Copyright Education page. Members of the Norfolk community can come join the discussion at the end of the month. Conversation around copyright is tremendously helpful in the process of learning more about this topic.