Digital Arts Service Corps Spotlight

After completing his Journalism degree at the University of Wisconsin, Digital Arts Service Corps member Mike Ewing traveled to East Africa to volunteer and work as a freelancer. During his travels through that region he stopped at a small journalism school in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, to speak to the students about working as a reporter in the U.S. Mike said that in talking with those students he came to appreciate how vital community-journalists are to society, and how valuable the community media organizations that support them are.

While there are a number of independent newspapers in Tanzania, corruption is as much a problem in the press as it is in the police. Despite these issues, the young Tanzanian journalists worked with their school to produce independent investigative pieces, creating and maintaining independent sources of information. Now back in the U.S., Mike believes community media institutions should work with nonprofits and citizens to help them not just contribute to the conversation, but to BE the media. While social media and the Internet give everyone a megaphone, Mike said, community media groups can help citizens “use those powers for good.”

Since August, Mike has been working at CAN TV (Chicago Access Network Television) as a Digital Arts Service Corps VISTA. Working closely with the cable access station’s nonprofit clients, he is showing them how to easily and effectively produce videos for the Web. Ultimately, his project will help CAN TV determine how it can better serve nonprofits in the Digital Era. While he worked as an Americorps VISTA at a different organization the previous year, Mike said he was drawn to his current position by the opportunity to realize the free speech ideals that drew him to journalism in the first place.

“In a nutshell, my position provides me with an opportunity to utilize my professional skills to benefit nonprofits and my community. It’s really a no-brainer,” he said.

We are proud to be supporting community access centers like CAN TV through the placement of a Digital Arts Service Corps member like Mike Ewing. We look forward to following his work in the coming months.

To learn a little bit more about Mike and his work at CAN TV, watch this video he made for an AmeriCorps initiative called VISTA Volunteer Reporters.

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