IN NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR
The Terrible Trio, Nels Squires (left- a cameraman from the early
days of the film unit), Charlie Callanan and Fred Earle entertain
on camera for Memorial University's first television transmitter project
in Trinity, 1979. The crew not only produced the programming and
entertained but they read stories for the children and interviewed
local people. Charlie, associate director of the Media Unit, was dubbed
'Johhny Appleseed' for his inspired commitment to local
transmitter projects. Working with extension field workers,
the media unit created a process of community dialogue and
celebration on village television. A decade and a half later,
people still remember making their own television.
All in all, the extension service sponsored 12 separate television
transmitter projects during the 1980s. Perhaps the most documented
occurred in Buchans after the closure of the mines in 1985. What was also
notable about Buchans was how Don Murphy of the Media Unit turned over
much of the technology to local people (He gives credit to
field worker Don Abbott). The youth of Buchans also got funding
for video training from International Youth Year.
Another notable transmitter project of1985
was field worker Roger Carter's marathon 20 broadcasts
(assisted by only one technician - Clyde Lush) in 18 days in eight
communities on the Burin Peninsula. Its importance to our story
is the minimum of technology and intervention from outside the region.
It's important to note that local television was also developing in
Newfoundland and Labrador without any influence by
the university or its extension department. For example,
in the early 80s the people of Burgeo, and later the
people of Ramea Island, set up their own community
owned and operated cable television systems. By the mid 80s,
the Burgeo Broadcasting System was producing regular
programming with a program director, Nancy Barter,
and a crew of volunteers. In this still from 1987, the current
director, Dave Cooper, tapes Nancy's news program.
Nancy was a graduate of the Bay St. George Community college journalism
program. The college offered broadcast journalism from the early 80s
until the late 90s. The students produced television programming each
week, including town council meetings. The program has been a partner in many
grassroots media initiatives and the students continue to participate in
local community media events.
Youth for Social Justice surfaced during a popular education summer
camp in 1988. The tools of participatory communication were practiced
locally and internationally during the movement's nine year history.
This satellite uplink, set up for a transmitter project in 1988, proves that
it's no problem to shoot and edit on NTSC VHS, then bounce it off a satellite
to reach millions of homes. The Pasadena project was a partnership of
the university's Department of Educational Technology (which
had absorbed what was left of the media unit after repeated cuts)
and the Pasadena Economic Development Committee.
As for the communications efforts of the extension service, by the end
of the 80s there was a shift from media technology to popular education -
the people took control of the technology. The reasons were financial -
the media unit had been eliminated and extension could no longer
afford professional technology; technological - the proliferation of
local cable systems meant the technology was already in the community and
could be tapped, and philosophical - popular education methodology
meant "we have no media experts but rather co-participants sharing
in a communication/education experience. We don't teach but rather
create learning situations and popular education resource materials."