Jeromie Whalen: Applause for Northampton Open Media

Published: 10/12/2021 3:49:51 PM

While the pandemic has uprooted many facets of management and action for local nonprofit organizations, it has been humbling to see the way that the staff of Northampton Open Media have routinely adapted their strategies to allow for the continued education of, and access to, local media resources in the city.

For the uninitiated, Northampton Open Media is the city’s community media center and public access television station that airs locally on Comcast channels 12, 15, 23. The nonprofit also serves as an education hub and community media production partner for a myriad of local and regional organizations. It is responsible for hundreds of hours of government programming, dozens of free in-person and online courses, thousands of dollars in local production grants, and free equipment rentals as part of its free-to-join membership.

At the start of the pandemic, Northampton Open Media was immediately able to respond to community needs for continued government coverage, coordinating dozens of municipal meetings per week and uploading them to a central online platform for review, discussion and debate. When classes could not be held safely at their Hawley Street studio, staff took to Zoom for lessons in camera equipment, directing and editing.

As the world slowly opened to limited in-person interaction, Northampton Open Media was quick to establish innovative and safe connections between local filmmakers through its Crowdsourced Cinema Project, a nationally-awarded venture where the community collaboratively remakes a famous film, scene by scene. As the district transitioned into fully in-person learning, the nonprofit offered equipment, meeting space, and other essential resources to ensure that educational needs were quickly met.

Even as COVID-19 severed many of the traditional means of communication within the community, the Northampton Open Media staff were able to successfully preserve some of the most important aspects of Northampton’s interconnectedness. This deserves the utmost recognition and applause.

Jeromie Whalen

Northampton

The writer is on the board of directors at Northampton Open Media and a teacher at Northampton High School.




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