Reclaim the Media

Seattle, WA

Based in Seattle since 2002, Reclaim the Media is dedicated to pursuing a more just society by transforming our media system and expanding the communications rights of ordinary people through grassroots organizing, education, networking and advocacy. We envision an authentic, just democracy characterized by media systems that inform and empower citizens, reflect our diverse cultures, and secure communications rights for everyone. We advocate for a free and diverse press, community access to communications tools and technology, and media and technology policy that serves the public interest. RTM is a co-founder and executive committee member of the national Media and Democracy Coalition, and the Northwest anchor group of the Media Action Grassroots Network (MAG-Net) .

Project Description: 

RTM will develop Digital Media Literacy curriculum for use in local area Community Technology Centers (CTCs) and by other community groups in the region and nationwide working on Digital Inclusion concerns.

Digital media literacy” (DML) refers to a set of skills allowing everyday residents to fully access and participate in the increasingly digitized realms of civic life. Social media services such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube anticipate that today’s web users are creating as well as consuming information. Increasingly, most public institutions, like city governments, federal agencies, and schools, are directing people to complex websites for processing everything from tax returns to drivers license renewals. And in the rapidly changing media landscape, traditional media sources like newspapers and television are also putting a greater emphasis on their online coverage, with expectations that local audiences know how to navigate information-rich sites, access streaming video, and respond with feedback and their own eyewitness accounts.

Our project will establish DML as an integral element of Digital Inclusion training programs, and to provide Seattle-based community technology educators with the information and tools needed to incorporate DML into existing training programs. Our effort focuses on developing DML curriculum in the form of a trainer’s handbook, and working closely with CTC staff in the use of the handbook via Train-the-Trainer workshops and some on-site training support. Using our network of contacts in the digital media and online civic engagement fields, as well as local and national experts in media literacy and curriculum design, we will invite guest consultants to both review our curriculum materials and participate in various CTC trainings.

Project goals:
1. Provide a framework for DML as part of a broader Digital Inclusion agenda
2. Create curriculum to allow community technology trainers to incorporate DML into courses in digital inclusion, computer use, civics, etc.
3. Provide training and support for CTC trainers and other educators seeking to incorporate DML into current programs
4. Make DML resources available via web publication
5. Evaluate for continuation and expansion

NECESSITY: The need for a DML training program emerged out of conversations with local community members and with technology trainers working with diverse communities. The digital divide continues – those who have internet fluency can adapt quickly to the next big web phenomenon, or to frequently advancing technology; those who don’t, risk a greater feeling of alienation and disempowerment, and at worst, an inability to participate in the discussions and decisions that directly impact their lives. Increasingly, social and participatory media models are the focal points for solution-oriented community organizing and community development efforts. These are the spaces where individuals and communities, of all ages and backgrounds, are connecting; and these are the conversations that no one should feel left out of.

TIMELINESS - The DML project has particular relevancy now, as traditional newspapers give way to an unknowable landscape for digital journalism; as web technology continues to develop in favor of easier interactivity and participation; and as the recent federal stimulus package will soon make broadband deployment to underserved areas a national priority.

ENGAGEMENT - Many Seattle-area CTCs already train individuals in low-income and marginalized communities (elders, immigrants, people of color and youth) in the basics of video and digital image production. Our DML program will go beyond that, to show young people and adults how to use digital media to engage deeply in addressing critical issues in their communities – whether it’s sharing neighborhood news with the daily newspapers or local tv and radio outlets, organizing sustainability efforts, or promoting local events and campaigns.

RELATIONSHIP TO RTM WORK- Since our founding in 2002, RTM has engaged with the development of nonpartisan media policy structures that favor the public interest (e.g. increased access to broadband technology and its applications); media literacy education; and supporting the development of community-based media projects and infrastructure.

RTM applied to Seattle’s Technology Matching Fund for roughly one third of the overall project budget. The project is not contingent upon receiving the City grant. As designed, 2/3 of the DML project budget is accounted for in in-kind donations from national experts and existing RTM resources. If RTM is not chosen for the City grant, we will actively seek funding elsewhere through our regional and national alliances. If we fall short of the proposed project budget, we will scale back on hardware expenses and we’ll draw more on our volunteer board to assist with coordination of the project.

With the VISTA member’s coordination time and effort, we’ll be able to maximize our reach to CTC staff and to other constituency-based groups; we’ll be more effective in tracking the in-kind donations of time and money to our Matching Fund effort with the City. And by having a staff member dedicated to this one project – researching others’ best practices around Digital Media Literacy training, contacting consultants, tracking the project deadlines, planning the curriculum launch event and train-the-trainer workshops, distributing the completed Digital Media Literacy handbooks, collecting evaluation surveys after DML curriculum trainings – we’re better positioned, by far, to fulfill the project goals successfully.

Project Tangibles: 
Tangible products include: DML curriculum; DML training program; research on other related curricula & training resources. CTC trainers will be equipped to extend DML education to community members in their own local training programs. DML trainees will develop critical skills to become more empowered consumers of online information, more active local/national civic participants, and more critical media consumers/producers. The curriculum plans and materials we produce will have abiding value for CTC trainers. RTM will update these materials to maintain their relevance. An initial print-run of 500 DML handbooks will be distributed in the Seattle area, and updates will be published at We will also establish an email list for CTC trainers and other digital media experts to further discuss the DML curriculum and related best practices. In sum, we will leave in place a successful training program that can be continued, improved, and expanded in the following years.

Supported Projects

GreenBlueGray Project Developer

Amber Cortes

Our VISTA will help to launch a new hybrid radio/web media project serving high-quality news and features to community radio audiences in the Seattle area. The VISTA will help design and support a project workflow for recruiting news and information providers, organizing news producers, and preparing content for publication. The VISTA will help recruit and coordinate volunteer radio and media producers from regional community radio stations to host and produce programming. The associate will help create and maintain relationships with partnering media outlets, help maintain a project website, and help deepen network relationships among innovate grassroots, community and ethnic media outlets in the Northwest

The VISTA will also work with the project manager and RTM to conduct outreach to participating news outlets looking for weekly/daily news to feature, to maintain the project website, and the conduct community outreach to help promote the project.

Transmission Project