Speak Out ! Talk Back! Say Something!

By Fred Campbell & Friends


Speak Out, Talk Back, Say Something ! - Communication Tips for Community Groups has been in the making for the past eight years. And as imperfect as it is, we've decided that, as government increases its attacks on communities by cutting more and more services and continually raising the unemployment rate, grassroots communication tools are needed now.

Grassroots communication is simply people talking to people. There are three components - groups of people, issues/content and communications tools.

Groups have the choice of making their own media or trying for "airtime" in the mainstream. There are advantages and disadvantages to each. For example, when making your own media your group has total control over what it wants to say. However, the mainstream probably will reach more people with at least some version of your message.

Your choice of communication tools obviously depends on many factors such as availability, money, who is willing to do what, experience, and personal preference.

If the group is aiming at media access, then it should first determine its geographic target and then become very familiar with the media conduits. Above all, try to achieve reasonable relationships with the people who will spread your word.

Around the world, more and more groups are deciding to make their own communications. In simple terms, this means that people are demanding to tell their own story in their own words.

Access to community based radio and community owned television is essential. Canada's regulations favor control of media by large corporations but Sweden, for example, has set up a system of neighbourhood radio. The People's Charter of Communication is now being circulated around the world.

Technology and cost are no longer the main barriers to effective grassroots communication. We need to encourage local communicators to network with other communities for solidarity and we need to stop governments' harassment of community communicators.

A Micmac from Maine once told me; The Micmac don't have leaders, they have communicators. Grassroots communication is essential for direct action or smart action by community groups who want to block harmful decisions made by government and big business.

Videazimut is a global coalition of video and television practicioners working for the people's right to communicate and effective participatory democracy. One of its members, Small World from Great Britain, publishes a video magazine focusing on direct action. (If anybody in Newfoundland and Labrador is interested in helping put out a similar video magazine, contact Ryakuga).

Thanks to all the people who have and who will participate in sharpening these tools for community groups. Any advice you have for improving the tools will be appreciated and acknowledged. Feel free to copy this information for non-profit activity but please say where you got it.


1. The Communicator
2. Press releases
a) Sample release
b)Surprise press release
3. Posters
a) Lampoons
4. Action Theatre
a) Demos
5. Open-Line
6. Participatory Community Television
a) How to organize and plan a community forum.
b) Sample schedule
c) Tips on moderating
7. Press conferences
8. Video
a) Agit-prop
b) Video letters
c) What not to do
d) Editing with camcorder and VCR
9. Newspaper newsletters
a) Design
b) Layout
c) Pasteup
d) Fax newsletters
10. Popular songwriting:sing our own songs
11. Petitions
a) Briefs
12. Interviews with decision makers
13. Black and white photos
a) Taking photos for newspapers
b) Developing film
c) Hints for Good Prints
14. Public forums
15. Community radio
16. Teleconferencing
17. Newspaper Wall/bulletin boards
18. Computer communications
19. Round tables


Communication - external and internal - seems to be right up there with money when it comes to assessing the problems of volunteer groups.

It would seem useful for all volunteer groups to consider establishing a formal position of communicator with specific job duties so that person will know what to do. It's obviously quite a bit of work so the position should be rotated.

Each volunteer group has its own specific needs so the job description should be written accordingly. The Belize-Newfoundland Linkage stresses the equality of its partners and has no formal structure. A chair and secretary are chosen at each meeting. The only offical positions are treasurer, signators and communicator.

This was a proposed job description for the Belize - Newfoundland Linkage communicator. (The concept was accepted by the linkage but we understand it was discarded just as the linkage became dormant.)

The communicator is not a hierarchial position but rather a conduit for information sharing within the linkage and with external groups. The position will be rotated at the discretion of the partners. The first task is distribution of minutes to the linkage mailing list. The Newfoundland communicator will maintain regular contact with the communicator in belize. This is in addition to communicating with the partner in the appropriate sector. The most obvious contact with the Belize communicator is sharing of minutes but a monthly phone call will help maintain the person-to-person nature of the linkage. The Newfoundland communicator should also keep in contact with CUSO Atlantic and CUSO Ottawa.

Appendices to the job description should include mailing lists, key contacts, phone and fax numbers. Each sector of the linkage can handle its own publicity but it would seem likely that many groups could assign distribution of publicity material to its communicator.




When writing a press release as a news story, try to focus on a topic or an issue that will interest a lot of people. First you have to interest the news editor of whatever media you approach. A news editor is interested in whatever is newsworthy. Try to think of newsworthy by asking yourself what people are talking about today on the slips; at the store; in the post office; at the gas pumps; in the lunch room; in the barber shop, or driving to work. Whatever people are really interested in talking about is likely to be newsworthy.

What is news?

1. News is the most important.
2. News is the most interesting.
3. News is the most controversial.
4. News is the most unusual.
5. News is happening right now... or tomorrow.
6. News is local... happening right here.

NOTE: News is a language of superlatives - the best and the worst; the biggest and the smallest, the first and the last. When looking for publicity, ask yourself what your group is doing that is newsworthy.


1. Try writing your press release like a news story. Brenda O'Brien says this will often result in your message being printed in the media exactly as you wrote it.

2. News stories are often written in an inverted pyramid style. This means you should try and get essential information into the story as soon as possible because during editing it can be cut at any time. Don't get angry when your release is cut; this is a normal procedure and it happens as a matter of course, even to professional reporters.

3. Pay special attention to lead (first)sentences; these words are the hook to entice readers to continue. (Some people will advise press release writers to put a headline as a hook on the story; don't expect it to be used by editors. Headline writing is complicated.) Often the lead will turn out to be your last sentence. A news story doesn't have to have a beginning, middle and end; rather it flows from the most important to the least important information. So, start your story with what's happening now or in the future. Use background material at the end of the release.
4. If you have a relationship with local media, you will know who to direct your message to. Reporters often have assigned "beats" or responsibilities. It still doesn't hurt to copy your release to the editor or publisher. (But please make sure that your list of media contacts is up to date.)

5. Send your release to all the media in your targetted audience area. Don't forget community newsletters (even church bulletins and grocery store bulletin boards for notices) and community television message channels.

6. Use quotes in your press releases but don't forget to identify the position or job title of the people and where they are from. If these people are able to speak to the media, you should include contact information.

7. Choose a well-spoken contact person from your group and include contact phone numbers that work.





(NOTE: This is a sample press release. Focus on a timely release date; complete contact information; lead in the future; quotes, and news story pyramid style.

Date to be released: March 5, 1996.

Contact: Tom Hutchings or Elaine Keeping of the Communication for Survival Initiative Steering Committee and the local Ramea committee. Hutchings is also economic development officer with the Town of Ramea and Keeping is with the Ramea Economic Development Corporation, a partner in the initiative:
709-625-2235 (phone)
709-625-2282 (fax)
tom_hutchings @ porthole.entnet.nf.ca

Elaine Keeping of the Ramea Communication for Survival committee invites town residents to tune in to Channel 28 on March 12 to take part in what promises to be a lively discussion on the future of work in rural Newfoundland.

Keeping says the Ramea Communication for Survival committee and Ramea Broadcasting will be hosting the regional community television discussion.

The live television event includes a phone-in for local residents as well as participation from Burgeo, Stephenville, Lourdes, La Grand' Terre and L'Anse à Canards. The event coincides with the regional steering committee meeting of the Communication For Survival initiative.

The television program will also feature videotapes from the participating communities and live music. Topics for the discussion are what can be done to create work in our rural communities; changes to UIC; youth and work; the future of TAGS, and the current work ethic.

The Communication for Survival initiative is a partnership of community groups from Ramea, Burgeo, Lourdes and La Grand' Terre working togther to save services to rural communities and to promote new development.

The communication initiative is working with the Ramea Economic Development Corporation (REDC), the Ramea Broadcasting Corporation (RBC), the Burgeo Broadcasting System (BBS), the Association Regionale de la Côte Ouest (ARCO), the Port au Port Community Education Initiative and a new communication group in Lourdes to provide skills learning opportunities for volunteers.

Other communication efforts include volunteer group meeting management; community radio; local newsletters; posters; brochures; photography, and networking by computer electronic-mail.

Resource people from the communication initiative are now working with community participants in Burgeo to develop a local newletter with black-and white photography. Other communications activities in Burgeo include working with BBS on a volunteer recruitment program and assisting local groups with meeting management.

The current phase of the communication initiative is called skills acquisition and practice. Interested community participants in Ramea produced photos and designed a new issue of the REDC newsletter - 'Ready for Tomorrow'. Local participants are also at work videotaping interviews and editing programs for community television.

Similar activities are scheduled in April for community volunteers in the Lourdes and La Grand' Terre areas.

Communication for Survival recently completed its community communication familarization stage. In Ramea, the local committee and RBC produced Our Island Home - a live community television event with a phone-in focusing on town issues. In Burgeo, the local committee and BBS featured a television phone-in on the proposed downsizing of the Burgeo hospital; calls were received from concerned people as far away as Francois, Grey River, Ramea, Norris Point and Placentia.

Familarization activities in La Grand' Terre included a videotaped cultural program which featured a panel discussion of the francophone schoolboard issue. The program was simultaneously broadcast on FM radio. In Lourdes, local committee members and students produced videos on area events and the 1993 community forum.

The videos in Lourdes are available from the community library; the francophone video is available in video outlets in La Grand' Terre, L'Anse à Canards and Cap St-Georges.




Surprise press releases can be sent by fax.

Surprise faxes are sent in response to, for example, a government announcement. There has to be concurrent publicity in the media on behalf of the group but there is no time for discussion, consensus and preparing a release. Surprise faxes are "quick and dirty".

There has to be a mechanism in the group whereby a communicator, for example, is entrusted to write surprise faxes.

Surprises can be sent to television, radio or newspapers. They may have more effect if they are sent to specific people in the media, even talk-line hosts. Surprise faxes will lose their urgency and effect if they are overused.

Surprise faxes can also be used as a last-minute reminder for media coverage of an event or publicity for a group effort. In such cases, they may be preceded a few weeks beforehand by a more comprehensive press release.

Some surprise fax tips:

1. Know your media fax numbers. Post a few copies and file some more. It's the type of information people walk off with.

2. Don't overwrite surprise faxes. Write briefly in a conversational style. Be humorous, conspiratal or urgent; don't be academic or professional.

3. Make your surprises readable; triple-space and use block letters. Sometimes a legible, hand-printed fax can be more effective.

4. If you have a good poster or lampoon on-hand, send it along with your notice. Be creative and unusual.

(Surprise fax press releases were used quite effectively during the Ides of March, 1991, when the university axed its extension service. At the time, they were called scuds but the name now seems inappropriate in an organization which believes in non-violence.)




It's very rare for a letter to the editor to be just that; "the editor" is usually only a conduit to reach a targeted audience.

The "letter" can be direct or a copy of a letter written to, for example, a government official or a politician. The purpose of copying, in the latter case, may be to ensure some action is taken on a group request.

The newspaper will be more likely to print your letter if it is perceived to be of interest to its readership such as, for example, if it relates to a news issue of the day. The private media is very fickle; what may be perceived to be "hot news" today is of no interest tomorrow - unless you can find a new angle.

Newspapers which are actually looking for news (rather than just reaction reporting or printing releases) will follow-up interesting letters as news items.

Letters to the editor tips:

1. It pays to know who is your editor and also for the editor to be familiar with the aims and activities of the group. This is best accomplished face-to face. (Often groups rely on out-of-date media lists; this can not only be embarassing but also get you off on the wrong foot.

2. Humor and wit are very effective but be careful not to slip into personal attacks; the media is generally sensitive about libel laws.

3. Before writing, decide who is your target audience and what are the main points of your message. Be clear and concise but conversational.

4. Don't - unless your only target is university professors and lawyers - use big words. Also be careful about using jargon and abbreviations. Effective communication is simple and direct.

5. It can be effective - if on a campaign - for different members, preferably from different places, to write letters on various topics of the cause. Be cautious, this can be overdone, especially if letters are obviously written by someone else or are of poor quality. Don't send form letters.




We live in the age of the photocopier. Whether this machine is just a waste of paper or an effective communication accessory depends on the creativity and resourcefulness of the group.

Postmodern photocopier poster production is a direct descendant of photomontage as practised in post-revolutionary soviet russia and also used effectively to attack the nazis in germany during the 1930s.

Photocopier poster production is a "found" art; the procedure is to find type, logos, drawings and photographs - reduce or enlarge them to the desired size - then tape the images to another page and reproduce as many as you need.

It's also possible to produce your own type using letraset; a laser printer with fonts, or specific computer software which will produce large fonts on a dot matrix printer.

Remember to follow the principles of communication - first decide who is your audience and what are the main points of what you want to say. Write down your message before you start to work.

Some poster production tips:
1. The enlarging/reducing capability is very important. You may have to, for example, enlarge an item several times before it can be used. However, the quality will deteriorate (or become more interesting) the more times it's copied. This particularly noticeable on a newspaper photo or pmt (photo mechanical transfer) which has been "screened" or transformed to black and white pixels.

2. Use black-and-white photos not colored. For best quality, cut out the actual photo to use on your poster. Experiment with the dark/light control on the photocopier. Record the setting for other people who may be reproducing the poster.

3. Make a few alternate sketches of your poster before you begin. Make sure you have the right aspect ratio; for example, will the poster be 8 1/2" by 11"; 8 1/2" by 14"; 11" by 17"; or 8 1/2" by 7".

4. Write out your print information before you begin. The more important the information, the larger should be the type.

5. Decide what will be the "hook" to entice people to view/read your poster. Is it a slogan? A challenge? Or an unusual photograph?

6. Don't worry about filling up the entire poster. Too much type can intimidate. (Conversely, "studies" show the best read ads are the ones with the most words and information.) At any rate, "white space" can be visually-appealing and attractive. For a better look, keep the "white space" to the outside of the poster; don't trap it in the middle.

7. When you've decided on all the components, try moving them about on the page before you tape them down. Don't be afraid to discard non-essential items.

8. Take some time to centre and straighten your material for a more professional look. Try a drafting board or light table. Using a guide with black horizontal/vertical lines under the poster and a ruler/right angle triangle can also be effective.

9. It's not necessary to cut out your items closely. Scotch magic tape (not the clear kind) works best to hide the cutout lines. If you still have a problem, try a lighter setting on the photocopier or use whiteout on the original.

Don't forget poster utilization. Think of your audience and decide where it will be most effectively used. Should it be sent to the media? Sometimes it will take a small army of volunteers armed with staplers, tape and thumbtacks to get the posters out.

(See the Ryakuga guide - Posters and Brochures - Do-It-Ourselves - for tips on making posters and brochures with scanned photos and word processing software.)




Lampoons popped into my language of communication tools when Bruce Gilbert told me of an incident in a book by Gabriel Marquez. The story goes like this: in the village early every morning someone stuck up lampoons. For example, you may find a lampoon stuck to your door. And, when you leave your house, you will find that everybody in the village knows about the lampoon and is talking about it. The lampoon reveals a secret about yourself which you thought was known to nobody else. The people of the village don't try to find out who is the author of the lampoons because each individual is afraid of being next on the list. The lampoons also make people nervous; as they make excuses and try to deny what is being said, they end up putting their feet in their mouths and revealing more and more.

There's also the line by Abbie Hoffman who suggested that if at the Nuremberg Rally someone had run out on the stage and pulled down Hitler's pants, World War Two never would have happened.

The point is that grassroots community groups may sooner or later find themselves in conflict with a powerful individual or group which will not be appeased. At such times, it may be necessary to confront in order to gain public support.

Powerful figures or groups in any society are kept secure by the fear that they engender in the hearts of ordinary people. The purpose of lampooning is to defuse fear by holding the powerful up to ridicule.

Lampooning, like cartooning, is the exaggeration of traits already possessed by the individual or groups. So the first step of lampooning is to isolate whatever characteristics can be held to ridicule.

In Canada, this is achieved very effectively by television groups like This Hour has Twenty Minutes or Air Farce.

If there is a cartoonist in your group, you can produce original material for your lampoon. It's also possible to use photocopied heads of the powerful on such negative forces as Mussolini and Hitler. Sometimes, characteristic expressions of the powerful can be featured effectively.

Assemble your lampoon using the poster production tips. It may be worthwhile to look around for a volunteer with desk top publishing and computer graphics skills.




(Thanks to Bruce Gilbert for this one)


The following tip-sheet focuses on how a local group (or even a rag-tag collection of individuals), can use theatre in a "quick and dirty" fashion, to communicate a message to the public (on the street, at a conference, for a group, at a protest/rally etc). The ideas are based on the recent experience of The Crackies, a group of St. John's based youth (with one old guy thrown in), that was slapped together for the purpose of doing street theatre at the G-7 in Halifax in the summer of 1995.

Things To Ask Yourselves/Think About

1) Who are you?

* there are many possible starting points for issue-theatre;
* you could be a temporary non-group that gets together to do a skit as a one-time thing at a one-time event (there is nothing wrong with this);
* you could be members of an existing group that has decided to do a skit about whatever it is your group is involved with (as one part of your other activities);
* you could be a theatre group that has decided to do more issue-based stuff about things you feel strongly about;
* you need to ask yourselves these questions: 1) is theatre the best medium for accomplishing your goal (or getting you closer to your goal at least)?; 2) do you have enough time to do this (you'll need some meetings)?;
* remember that you do not need to be good actors to do peoples' theatre!!;

2) What do you want to say?

* this is the first step for any communications medium whether its a video, a press release etc
* what is your point? do you have a point?;
* if you don't feel strongly about your topic, you are in trouble--chose a theme that hits you in the stomach; if you don't know why you are doing the topic and if you don't really care about the topic you shouldn't be doing it;
* build on what you know;
* research the topic (use the newspaper to get ideas; use real quotes to make fun of people)
* if you don't know much about it learn about it;

3) What do you want the theatre to do?

* entertain people you like;
* bug or annoy (knock off balance) people you don't like;
* get you on TV (into the mainstream media);
* provide new info to people that are neither for nor against you (ie: to convert them to your way of thinking);
* shock people into doing something;
* educate your own group (no audience);
* some/all of the above;
* sometimes you'll be asked to perform on a certain theme and you will do this; other times you'll do what is asked PLUS throw in a little more, especially if you feel the theme is too "whimpy" (ie: you are asked to do something on ant littering and you DO address this in your skit BUT you add in the lunacy about the FEDS giving $$ to North America Resource Recovery to build the largest garbage incinerator in North America in Long Harbour); you may burn bridges by doing this OR you may get through to the audience because of your wacky/fun approach;

4) Writing:

* sooner or later someone has to write the ideas down;
* as fun as it is to be impromptu, you'll need to be somewhat prepared so you don't look like unprepared uncommitted slackers;
* you can write the scene(s) together (as a group) but this can take a lot more time than you think (especially if people are always throwing in yet again another new "fantastic" idea);
* an alternative is to work on the ideas together as a group, and then to delegate the script/line writing to one or two people; a first draft can then be brought back to the gang and you work on it from there;
* once you've agreed on the key themes/ideas don't continuously go backwards to re-write the basic ideas--improve the script of course, but you'll go nuts if you are always "starting from scratch";
* make the scene/lines simple--so that you can whip in a replacement actor at the last minute for non-key roles;

5) Rehearsal:

* its amazing how little practice you'll really need--but you will need some rehearsal time;
* go to the site where you hope to do the scene; know its limitations and its strengths (ie: the Crackies did a skit at a protest against the CHST (Canada Health and Social Transfer) at the Delta Hotel in St. John's; in order to do it so the crowd (waiting for the arrival of the limos and the big shots) could see and hear us, we had to perform on a narrow sidewalk that was on a steep downward slant which we needed to know in advance);
* try and have at least one rehearsal with all of your props (but be careful cuz some props can only last 1-2 performances (ie: there is only so much life in a cardboard fridge box FPI dragger));

6) Choosing a Venue:
* obviously when you are asked to perform, you take what you can get in terms of space;
* avoid settings where the organize put you on a huge stage in front of a large crowd as if you have a four act play to perform--try and match your performance to the setting (if you only have a short skit and are given the stage, perhaps set up on the floor in front of the stage--or at the back even);
* if you are doing a "sneak attack", pick a spot where the mainstream media can get a shot of you, and where the object of your protest can see you (ie: if you protesting at a corporate boardroom meeting its a waste if those you are trying to intimidate don't see you);
* don't be too obvious or the security types will try and interfere (you may be asked to leave or they may just shag you up enough for you to miss the Premier rushing by);

7) Use of Props:

* balance the time it takes to build them with their importance to the skit;
* try and make them so that with minor changes they could be re-used in other skits later on (ie: a puppet can be transformed from a fisherman into a corporate big-wig pretty easily);
* if outside where visuals are important make big things out of cardboard boxes;
* don't be too elaborate;
* be aware of sound/wind problems; if you can have a buskers amplifier and a few clip on cordless mics that would be great but I'm afraid that most of the time you'll be shouting at the top of your lungs; a megaphone can be really useful for gathering a crowd and for a narrator;
* use bright paint on your props;
* feel free to use signs that help you to explain things quickly (where you don't have time for long dialogue development--ie: a sign that says 3 MONTHS LATER);

8) Will Anything Follow The Theatre?

* if its "scud" or surprise attack theatre you may want to bug people on an ongoing basis (to the point where the mainstream media are disappointed if you don't show up with something new);
* think about how your theatre fits into the bigger "campaign"--if you only have so much time you better make sure your theatre is on the right themes and performed at the best places);
* if you perform your scene at an event of the converted, the thing following your scene should have something to do with the scene (ie: a skit on the CHST followed by a speech by Bob White on the CHST);
* try and avoid settings where your scene is out of context (ie: a scene about the CHST at an East Timor rally--this may sounds obvious but people will call you and ask you things like "can you do a skit at our event?...oh...you don't have time to prepare one on the environment....well we would really love to have you (READ "I need something to fill up the agenda)...could you do an old skit on something else...anything will do);

9) Check Out The Political/Appropriate:

* if you are doing a scene about something that you don't know that much about, run your scene/script by people who DO KNOW ABOUT IT to be sure you are not out to lunch (plus your enemies will want to paint you as "telling lies and misleading the public"--BE CAREFUL ABOUT THIS);
* you can represent the enemy anyway you want BUT if your skit represents someone who is on your side, be sure you are not making them look silly or stupid (ie when the Crackies did a skit about low-level flying at the G-7, there were Innu characters in our scene--we were very careful about how to portray them--we called Peter Penashue, President of the Innu Nation and faxed him a script for approval);
* when we did the East Timor skit we made fun of stupid, greedy politicians- we did not try and portray suffering Timorese;

10) Be Prepared To Take ShiT:

* you are doing a good job if people on the other side attack you; they will tell lies about you so you should be ready for this; at the G-7 we did a skit in a huge crowd several hundred metres from the "official stage"--we had no mics and our throats were rubbed raw--we did a 3-4 minute skit during a break in the official programme--part way through our skit (near the end) the official programme began with a kids choir--the official media reported on an "outraged organizer" with a headline something like "Local Theatre Group Destroys Youth Choir"--get my drift?);

11) Skits should always be revised customized for the group:

* most are likely throw away skits ie: they may only be performed once (but parts of them (characters) can be revised for new scenes);





* scene begins with Minister wrapping up his speech to a generic audience somewhere (audience is a mix of sell-out Liberals and progressive types); NOTE# the real audience at this East Timor solidarity/info meeting became the theatre audience;

MINISTER (M) - "....and therefore....I firmly believe that our policies in international relations will continue to be the most progressive, the most humane and at the cutting edge of promoting human rights and democracy around the world. We will continue our long history of supporting the poor helpless people of this troubled planet as we so admirably showed with our strong stand on Iraq in the Gulf War. In this case we stood up for the underdog Kuwait, because...we cared. We refused to stand by and watch an aggressive bully harm our friends--our fellow humans.

In closing my Ministry will show strong leadership on the global stage and will be a Ministry that Canadians can be proud of. Thank you. (some clapping from actors planted in audience as M sits down);

AIDE (A) - Now ladies and gentlemen...Minister Oulette has agreed to take a few questions. Please keep your questions short and simple and I'm sure the Minister will do the same with his answers.

LIBERAL DO-GOODER - Oh oh (waving hand)....well thankyou...I don't want to ask a question I just want to make a comment if I may (M nods)...I just want to say that I think you and the other members of this government are doing a fantastic job and I think that you should just carry on with your international watchamacallit..with good people like you Mr Ouellet in charge how can we not help these poor pathetic people pull up their socks and look after themselves like they should in the first place....thankyou.

M - well thankyou Madame XX (could be the spouse of well known Liberal Senator/MP; in this case it was Mrs (Clyde) Wells);

CRITICAL QUESTION ASKER (C) - a social activist type - "...ahem...ahem...Minister Ouelette...in your speech you make mention of the Gulf War and protecting Kuwait.....my question is "if we are protecting Kuwait why are we not stepping in to assist East Timor?"

M - What? Istanbul? (With strong Jean Creatien type accent)
C - No East Timor?
M -...ohhh...dat East Timor place...you mean Indonesia!?
C - No it is not Indonesia...it is East Timor!!
M - No I think you are mistaken its part of Indonesia!

C - no...Mr Minister...you should know that the UN has never recognized the illegal occupation of East Timor...in fact there have been two XXXX (motions) in front of the UN since 197X...demanding that Indonesia completely withdraw from East Timor and that there be a UN supervised referendum on self determination.

M - Ok OK I know that...I'm the Minister you don't have to tell me about things like this....next question.
C - but but!!! (AIDE points to next question)
2nd Critical Question Asker (2C)- Well I'd like to pick up where that last man/woman left off...why Kuwait and why not East Timor?
M - because Kuwait was defensless
2C - but ET was/is defensless
M - Well K is a tiny country that was being bullied by an aggressive military dictatorship
2C - but so is ET
M - well Iraq was led by Hussain a vicious madman--we had to act
2C - well Indonesia is led by Suharto a vicious madman--why don't we act?
M- Hussaine has killed many innocent people
2C - Suharto has killed over 200,000 people--one third of the population--the worst mass murder per capita since the Holocaust
AIDE - OK thats it for today (tries to hustle M off stage)
2C - could it be Minister that we helped Kuwait because of its oil?

M- (now aggravated)...well of course its because of da oil what are you stupid (AIDE desperately trying to get him off stage)...we helped them so they could save their oil which we can have access to ...if Hussein got it we'd never get it

2C - but East Timor has enormous oil in the Timor Gap between Timor and Australia...why don't we help them to save their oil so we could have access to it

M - why bother...we already have access to it thru Indonesia...plus those 195 million Indonesians are our friends....we sell them weapons like combat aircraft good for airdropping troops, parachutes and stuff like dat....we give them lots of foreign aid....hell we're even hopin to sell them a CANDU reactor....christ we'd be crazy to bug them about a puny little island where a few loud mouth locals are getting killed from time to time (AIDE yanks him off stage and says meeting adjourned)


* set just behind the public meeting in a cabinet type board room--the AIDE, Minister and others are debriefing the meting which had gone out of control

AIDE - we MUST be more careful Minister Ouellet.....we need to avoid situations like that...I thought we had agreed about what to do about this ET thing.....(everyone looking sheepish)....well OK...lets practice some more....all together now (singing with AIDE waving arms like a musical conductor)

AIDE - East Timor? Group (repsonds) - Where is that?
AIDE - East Timor? Group - Theres nothing we can do?
ALL - East Timor? Its got nothing to do with us?
Why is everyone makin' such fuss?
East Timor, East Timor!!

(to the tune of Three Blind Mice)

AIDE - now lets go over the most common questions asked....(AIDE ask a question and points to person he wants to answer - like a teacher)

Q- Why do we sell weapons to Indonesia? R- I don't have my briefing papers with me
Q- Why are they one of our top aide recipients? R-We must help the poor starving children
Q- Why don't we speak out on their human rights abuses? R-We talk to them privately behind closed doors

INTERRUPTION #1 - Minister Ouelette...sorry to interrupt but its Jakarta on the line wanting to confirm the dates for your Team Canada visit....is it the end of this month
M- yes yes (annoyed)
I#1 - and will you be staying with the Suhartos?
M - YES YES (delighted)...oh great they have a great golf course right in their front yard
AIDE - now about this problem we're facing....we're always getting hasselled because we say we're strong human rights advocates and that we believe aid and trade should be linked to a country's HR record....
M - well whats wrong with that
AIDE - but thats not what we've been doin Mr Minister...remember China and the romp through SE Asia?
M- oh yeah right

INTERRUPTION #2 - Mr Minister I'm sorry but you need to sign these defense permits....more parachutes and combat aircraft
M- how much are these....wow look at this...2 million...that brings us up to about 5 million since I've been in eh
A#2 - 5,763,000.00 to be precise
M- great keep em comin.....but wait...er...where are these things being used
A#2 - well in Indonesia of course
M - but against who?
A#2 - well against the people in East Timor, the people in Sumatra and against the people in Irian Jaya and against...
M- good...whew...as long as their not ONLY being used in ET...could cause us trouble HA HA HA

AIDE - now back to our problem with our foreign affairs policy...what to do what to do...hmmmmm...so I guess we are going to have to stop dealing with these countries?! Lets think about this!!

(group gets up and in a tight circle starts walking around and around with every so often someone stopping abruptly (with everyone banging into them) and ALMOST having an idea but (finger in the air like they've had a lightbulb idea)...sighing...muttering...and going back into the circle which starts again in a differenct direction....until...)

AIDE - I've got it!!!! (rushing to blackboard and with chaulk starts writting like a teacher...ok...ok...everyone follow this....first you have huuuuuuummmmaaaan rrrriiiiiights (spelling on board) which is what we say we Liberals believe in .....and ....then you have fooooorrrrign aaaaaaiiiiiid (forign aid) which we like to give so we have influence in other countries....and finally we have....trrrraaaaade (trade) which is what we Liberals are really all about.

So....the problem as I see it is.....we've got trade which we want to do and aid is ok but this here human rights thing is our problem....now if we just eeerrrrraaaaase this from our policy and say something like (the best way to ....) We are left with just aid and trade..rather than changing our actions and rather than changing all of this lucrative trade... we can just change our policy!

(Others listening intently as if a brilliant idea is being unveiled)

M- you mean change our great Liberal policy developed in the 70s and 80s where we vigorously defended rights at the expense of trade with countries like South Africa?

AIDE - well...we've already signed all these deals with places like China and we've invited the Prime Minister from China over for a visit....and all we'd have to do is to change a few words in our policy manual...and everyone in the country is in deficit mania so they wouldn't even notice...even if it made the front page of the Globe and Mail

M - Well....OK

INTERRUPTION #3 - Mr Minister...we need your signature on this aide deal with Indonesia
M - which one is that
AIDE - the university one...you know....the one where we give the universities $$ cause they are so desperate for funds these days...they use it to do some linkage stuff with upper class Indonesians and skim off some nice admin funds....throw in a few junkets to Indonesia for faculty and everybody's happy...especially Suharto cuz aid programmes like this give them legitimacy on the world stage...I mean for him it shows the world that his government can't be THAT bad if contires like Canada are still dealing with him like this.
M -ok ok (signs paper) now where were we

AIDE - re-writing the policy
M- yes..how bout something like "foreign trade, which creates progress in the economy is the best way of spreading democracy to the population and for stopping rape, forced sterilization in East Timor"
AIDE - leave out the stopping rape in ET part
M - ok
Interruption #4 - Suharto on the line for you sir (fade out to radio news)

THE WORLD AT SIX - Friday May 12th 1995 --our lead story--Canada Puts Trade Before Rights--Foreign Relations Minister A Ouelette has severed the link between human rights and trade in Canadian foreign policy saying that trade should take precedence regardless of a country's poor record on rights. Ouellet says thet "the best way to promote democratic development is through developing trade irrespective of whether countires have dictatorships or not"

In other news....ET mothers appeal to the world to support them in their fight to stop the rape, torture and murder of their children! END




(Tip of the hat to Brenda O'Brien for all her help)

The postmodern demo or demonstration is related to popular theatre. It creates a theatrical event around which people can receive the communication intended to be conveyed.

Again, the organizers must be clear about who they are talking to and what they want to say.

There are potentially four sectors a group might want to attract to a demo - the media, the public, supporting volunteers and decision-makers.

The media will be most interested in demos which are considered newsworthy. Again, newsworthy is an ephemeral term; at times a group may have to consider creating a new slant on yesterday's news.

The group must take the media's timetable into consideration. Be aware of deadlines for news items. Don't plan a demo for Sunday afternoon if no reporters are working. Know what else is taking place in the community. Re schedule if necessary.

Brenda says to try to deliver your message early in the demo and to carefully time its progress.

Give the media plenty of notice. Send more comprehensive press releases as the day approaches. Don't forget posters; suggest stimulating interviews for newspaper, radio, television or community television. Send fax press releases at the last moment. It's useful to tickle interest with a few hinted-at surprises.

Try to target your public as closely as possible. Are you speaking to voters? Who votes? Is it workers or students? Men or women? Rural or urban populations?

Knowing your public and potential support will make it easier to know where and when to hold the demo. Brenda says to choose a location and a time that is convenient for your supporters. Check out the space for potential hazards. Make the location appear as crowded as possible; if you expect 200 people, set up the room for 50. Brenda says to assign people for crowd control so that the space will look crowded for the television cameras; maintain a feeling of excitement.

If necessary, arrange for buses or alternate transportation and let the people know. Plan your event for the time when most of your supporters will be available. Do a double check on verbal information about, for example, lunch breaks.

Brenda says copies of songs and chants should be made available to all participants. Songs and chants keep the momentum going during dry periods.

She says somebody should take care of lining up speakers and entertainers for the event. Variety and timing is important.

Brenda suggests that another person could take charge of notifying the media, including writing press releases and surprise fax press releases. Sending and copying press releases can be time consuming.

She says it's important to assure that posters are eye catching and well distributed. Public service announcements can be used to publicize a demo if it doesn't need to be a surprise.

Sound systems are often helpful for making demos exciting. Brenda suggests if one isn't available, a bull horn or strong lungs will be adequate.

She says eye catching placards (particularly zany and original ones) add to the excitement and make good television pictures.

Send a pen and paper through the crowd so that you can get participants' names, addresses and phone numbers. Your supporters will want to be notified of future events.

Brenda says even small demos can be really effective.




(Thanks to Bruce Gilbert for help on this one.)

It seems everybody nowadays is listening to open-line shows. This potential mass audience is very appealing to any volunteer group looking for publicity. But there's more to open-line than just picking up a phone and calling a number.

The problem, of course, is that lots of other people are also calling the station. Even after you get through your call will be placed on hold and you will wait your turn. The point is not to get frustrated and give up. Bruce Gilbert says he has tried for an hour to get through and then waited fifteen minutes on hold only to have the program end before he had his say. What do you do? Try again during the next program.
Some people have claimed to circumvent the whole process by phoning the station manager on important issues.

The free long distance line tends to fill up in a hurry but, if you're willing to pay for your calls, you may speed up the process by calling the town number.

Another possibility would be to establish a rapport with the host and become a frequent caller. You could try to convince the host (perhaps by letter) to feature your cause as a topic on the program. Maybe your representative could become a guest on the show.

It's also possible for a number of group members to blitz the program to support your cause. Try to make sure the volunteers can handle themselves on the phone and they are not going to merely parrot the same message.

Before your communicators call, it makes sense to go over the main points of what you want said. But Bruce suggests it is important to listen to the show and try to link into the flow of the program. Bruce said he's changed what he planned to say at least ten times while listening to the program on hold.(Don't have your radio turned up too loud because it will feedback; it can throw you off if you finally get on-air only to be told to turn down the radio.)

Be aware you won't get a chance to make a big presentation; two or three minutes is probably the most you can hope for.

Remembering the main points of effective communication (deciding what you are going to say and to whom you are talking), it's important to find out which open lines are popular in the region. Check out which radio station your audience is listening to.




Participatory community television is TV you make yourself. Ideally this means your volunteers handle the entire process from deciding what you want to say and to whom; digging a video camcorder out of someone's hall closet, and going out to collect interviews to make your message to the community.

But in practice, you will find that the 'community television channels' in larger centres are operating like mini-networks. They will give access to community groups (and if you're interested in buttons and lights, they usually have volunteer jobs available). The best advice for volunteer groups in these areas is to contact the cable station and go in for a long talk.

Be flexible and give the station lots of time to arrange your programming.

In smaller communities, it is sometimes possible for community groups to convince the cable company to wire up a community hall (it has to be relatively close to the satellite dishes) so volunteers can make their own television. The volunteers will be responsible for supplying their own equipment. Often the volunteers will program a community bingo and give the company a split of the profit. (NOTE: In Newfoundland and Labrador contact Lloyd Pretty in Dildo for details of Regional Cable TV policy.)

Volunteer community television groups usually have complete control over the programming in the community. It's probably fair to say that such groups have the most potential when all interested groups in the community have representation and input/participation in the programming.

The other distinquishing characteristic of participatory community television is the emphasis on two-way communication. Using a telephone hookup in the "studio", grassroots politicians can poll the people on what they think about issues; people are more ready to participate in community discussions from the safety of their living rooms and kitchens.

Probably the ideal way for your cause to be fully discussed in the community is to build your message inside a participatory community television event.

Such an event is guaranteed to be a lot of work and a lot of fun. Special care should be taken with arranging your panel discussions; your moderators should fully understand the procedure of involving the whole community in creative discussion of your message.




A community television special is ninety percent planning and organization before the event.

Most of the work has nothing to do with blinking lights and videotape.

We should all try to remember that, aside from promoting communication between our neighbours, community television is supposed to be fun.

It's obvious there will be some nervousness and stress, but that all adds to the excitement. However, planning and organizing before the event is the easiest way to ensure the most fun and 'relaxed' excitement on the day.

Each community will make participation-television in its own style but there generally seem to be four main ingredients - mixture of live and taped segments; live phone-in; live entertainment, local news, weather and sports.

Plan your program from beginning to end. This doesn't mean you shouldn't be ready to change during the event, especially if somebody unexpected drops by to tell a story or sing a song.

The reasons for playing pre-recorded tape back-to-back with live segments are, first, it provides time for everybody to relax and breathe easier and, second, it gives time to change the set and move people on and off.

Your program should be typed up and a copy given to all the participants so people, such as the VCR player, are not wandering around saying - what happens next?

It can be helpful to leave a column down the side of the program to include such information as which camera (if you're using two) will take the first shot of the live segment and which participant will talk first.

Don't worry about time; this is community television. The only time that really matters is going on-air at the announced time. But it's helpful if you pre-time each pre-taped segment with a stopwatch (not the VCR counter); this lets people know exactly when they have to, for example, finish their cigarette and get back to the mic.

During the event, also time each taped segment with a stopwatch so everybody knows "how much time is left".

You'll probably want to change jobs during the special, but it's important to assign positions during the planning stage so each person knows what they have to do. They should be encouraged to share, however.

A live phone-in is one of the most important differences between community and network television. It allows everybody in the community to actively participate and make their views known. A phone-in, of course, doesn't have to be centered around a panel. The Placentia group, for example, used birthday greetings to "break the ice".

One of the things community television can do is preserve and develop oral traditions. Storytellers and local entertainers also give the event a 'social' feeling.

You may find it easier if you 'edit' all your pre-taped segments in order on one tape.
Make sure the event is well-publicized in the community so people know when to watch.

Test the equipment to make sure you have sound and picture well before the time announced to start. Check each piece of equipment including the phone. "This is just a test" is a good way of letting people know you're going on-air soon.




A community television special usually has a specific purpose so each group will decide a schedule to meet its own needs.

A typical schedule contained pre-taped and live components. One practical benefit is this approach gives amateurs a release from the continual pressure of live television and also time to bring on new panels, interviews, newscasts or live entertainment.

Pre-taped programs can also introduce the community to people or events which cannot be brought to the studio. Typically the community itself, including scenic views, historic buildings, people at work and play, is shot and edited to music. Other pre-taped segments could include interviews; story-tellers; entertainers; choirs; church services; sports events; community fairs; children at play, and advice on a community problem by outside experts. The pre taped segments are often edited and titled before the on-air special.

In community television, an open-line phone system, combined with live panels, gives people the opportunity to participate in the communication process by "talking back to their television". The panels relate to the theme of the special and often include outside "experts" and knowledgeable people from the community. In such events, it is important that the panel moderator continually elicit response from the community and the phone-in number be prominently displayed.

Live entertainment is an important component of community television. It promotes viewer interest and avoids information overload by providing a counter-balance to the more "serious" programming. Taping local entertainment, dances and theatre as well as music, can provide an important service by preserving local traditions which otherwise might be lost. It can also promote a sense of pride and identity in the community.

One community television special tradition has been to leave the programming open-ended by on-air inviting local entertainers to come to the studio. The special becomes more of a community event when people are welcomed into the studio itself to watch or participate. It is possible to invite local residents, especially children, to "come see yourself on community TV".

Interviews with children, live or pre-taped, always grab the attention of the community. Another popular feature has been news, weather and sports, written and performed by local students. If possible, it is effective to show the schedule on air before the event. Promotion in the local newspapers can increase the number of people who want to watch. If equipment is available, the schedule can be superimposed on-air over posters prepared by school children promoting the theme of the special.

It is important that the special starts on time; scheduled guests are in the studio, and the video/audio signals are technically adequate to be watched and enjoyed on the television sets of the community. But the schedule should not be thought to be etched in stone. For example, don't cut off an interesting phone-in just because the time is up for that particular event of the schedule. Similarly, if a potentially interesting interviewee or entertainer shows up at the studio, fit them in.

The Newfoundland experience has been that community television specials are watched and appreciated by the people. Be prepared for requests for VHS copies by people who missed the event and who want copies as souvenirs or to send to relatives and friends.


Shots of the community: pretaped and edited to local music (6:00 min.)

Live television: Welcome from the host and explanation of the theme of the special by a local resident (10:00 min.)

A Day at the Local School: pretaped: shots of students at work and play: interviews (7:00 min.)

Organizations for children: pretaped: shots of Cubs, Beavers, Brownies (10:00 min.)

Local history: pretaped: interviews with older people in the community, shots of old, black and white photos (15:00 min.)
Live television: first panel of the Mayor and local experts. Includes phone-in. Flexible time (30:00 min. to one hour)

Live television: news, weather and sports (20:00 min.)

Community fair: pre-taped: shots of exhibits, events and people. Interviews (15:00 min.)

Various church choirs: pre-taped (15:00 min.)

Live television: second panel of outside experts. Includes phone-in. Flexible time (30:00 min. to one hour)

Series of interviews with local clergy, Mayor, municipal officials, fire chief. (15:00 min.)

Live television: third panel of local provincial and municipal politicians. Flexible time (30:00 min. to one hour)

Story-time: pretaped; librarian reading story to small children with closeups of pictures in the book and expressions on children's faces. (15:00 min.)

Live television: conclusion of regular programming: thanks to all volunteers (1:00 min.)

Live television entertainment: local singers, dancers, musicians, some have previously agreed to perform while others are a surprise. (time limit varies according to circumstances)

Pretapes shots of the community edited to local music (6:00 min.)




(Thanks to Roger Carter for this one.)

Tips on Moderating

Moderator should be a relatively objective observer-

Moderator should be seen to be a relatively objective observer.-

Moderator should act as a facilitator, not as a lobbyist of one side or the other.-
Moderator should attempt to become familiar with the subject of the panel discussion; find out what the community at large would like to know/discuss.-

Meet with the panelists and work with them on a set of questions/topics.-

Inform the panelists of your intentions, for example:

(i) that you want to start with a brief opening statement
(ii) that you will give priority to people phoning in rather than to the panelists (after the initial statement).-

Introduce the panel. Let the producer or camera people know beforehand what order you plan to use, e.g. left to right or whatever. Also let the camera people or producer know beforehand how you plan to close the session. This will result in a 'smoother' more professional program.-

If the panel discussion is part of a phone-in the panel should be used to stimulate discussion by the audience; it should not be allowed to dominate or bore the audience. Do not allow long monologues or presentations.-

Give priority to the phone calls. The panel can respond to what the callers are particularly interested in rather than what the panelists are pre-occupied with. Usually the most important thing is community involvement.-

Remember, you and the panelists are there to serve the community at large, not just the panelists.-

Remember that this is a television program and it has to be interesting as well as informative.-

Have a list of questions yourself to direct to the panel and/or the viewers; you should try to avoid having 'dead air'. At the same time, try to get a panelist or a caller to fill in 'dead air'; sometimes people make the most interesting and informative comments without being prompted. They too feel pressured by silence. Be ready yourself though, in case the period of silence becomes too long.-
Don't let the callers go on too long. Thank them for their call and remind them that other people may want to call in.-

Cut off a crank call immediately. Treat it humourously, don't get upset by it and don't make a big fuss. Go on to the next caller or next question to the panel.-

Try to involve all the panelists, do not allow one or a few to monopolize.-

Don't be afraid to ask provoking questions.-

Speak to the viewers at home directly; for example, use "we want you at home to call us with your comments or your questions", or "this is your program, your community".-

Sometimes a 'Cross Country Check-up' type question can be used to get people to phone-in. If for example the subject is the future of the community, ask a general question like "Is the future of this community threatened by (for example) the closure of the fish plant, shut down of the railway, etc."? This type of question may not be necessary after people have begun to phone in. The callers may have their own particular interest. In any case, always have a few such stock questions in your notes.-

If the event also includes a public meeting or live studio audience equipped with a microphone, try to give the people phoning in the same opportunity to participate as the people in the room.-

It is easier for a moderator to control a meeting which uses only a telephone than a meeting which also allows the studio audience to participate in person. A telephone call can be easily disconnected if the caller becomes belligerent. A person in the room is not always as easy to deal with. However, the public meeting/live audience can make for a more interesting and exciting program.-

If you have the technology, have the phone number appear on the screen from time to time (when no one is on the line). Otherwise, make up a poster beforehand and pin it in a location which can be easily shot by a camera person.-

Give the panelists an opportunity to make a final short statement. Try to end with a panelist who is particularly articulate.-

Thank the panelists, the callers and the viewers.-

Remind the people to stay tuned.




It can be a bit demoralizing to call a press conference and nobody shows up. The best advice is to know the habits of your local media and have them onside.

Different media have different deadlines. If your daily paper goes to press at 12 noon and your press conference is sheduled for 12:30 you are very unlikely to make the front page on that day or the next. You will probably miss out on the next day because your story will be old news - reported by other media.

If you decide who is your targeted audience, you can then choose which media are the most important for your group. Then you also have to be realistic about how much attention your story will receive.

Try and find out what else is happening at the time.

For example, few other stories are likely to get much attention on budget or election days. That is unless you can clearly demonstrate your message is related to the main story of the day.

Check out when the media are full-staffed and when there's nobody working. Saturday afternoon is probably not a great time to attract reporters unless it's a very slow weekend.

Your group may be able to establish rapport with reporters who will make it a point to cover your activities.

Again, get to know your local media.

Tips for press conferences:

1. Announce your press conference to the media as early as possible. Follow up your announcement the week before the press conference with information designed to interest or tease the media. Faxed surprise press releases the day of the actual event may hook a few more reporters.

2. Time your press conference as best you can, being aware of deadlines, other events and media staffing (who's working?).

3. Choose an accessible location with room to park. A notice on the door indicating room number and location is advisable; busy reporters often arrive at the last moment.

4. Set out coffee and snacks for people who arrive early; have someone on hand to chat to reporters. The same person (the communicator?) can arrange photos of participants for reporters.

5. Prepare an information package with a background description of your group; black and white photos if appropriate; a press release with your message, and prepared statements from your participants.

6. If professional lighting is available, consider having your meeting room lit for television cameras. Eyecatching posters are also useful for television cameras.

7. A panel often works well at a press conference. Make sure your panelists are stressing different points and don't talk too long. Your host should open and close the event. The panelists can be from supporting groups, as well as your own.

8. Set up a press table with press kits, paper and pens, in front of the panelists. Be ready to accommodate unanticipated press who may arrive.

9. Allow ample opportunity for the press and audience to ask questions. But be ready to close the event when attention flags.

10. The press may want photo opportunities and personal interviews after the event. Be ready for it.

11. Invite an audience of friends and supporters. Have them ask questions.

12. Don't be flustered by hard nosed or belligerent questions. Remain calm. If you don't know the answer - say so and tell the reporter you will try to get the information.




Now that consumer camcorders have found their way into most communities, video has become a potential communications tool.

Small World's videomagazine, Undercurrents, demonstrates the effective use of amateur video. They take actual video shot by amateurs for distribution world-wide.

Small World also has good tips for action video which is often shot in hazardous conditions at, for example, demonstrations or strikes. Because it's not usually possible to set up with a tripod, they suggest zoom out to wide and if you have to be covert - videotape on full automatic from the hip. They also suggest getting background sound and scenes for editing.

The secret to video, like most communications, is knowing what you want to say and to whom. Also, without expensive technology, you would be best advised to keep your message as simple as possible.

Our focus here is to help volunteers make simple video messages. We assume that you don't have access to computer titling or an editing suite.
Without access to computer titles, you can always shoot a computer screen (other options are shooting a title off paper stuck to the wall and some 8 mm camcorders have the ability to superimpose titles). It's possible with some camcorders and VCRs to use audio dub to add voiceover or music to scenes already shot. You can often hookup your camcorder to a VCR to assemble a few scenes together. If you add an audio mixer between your audio out and audio in, you can add your voice live while your video is being copied on the VCR.




Agit-prop or agitational propaganda is similar to modern advertising - a simple message designed for specific purpose.

The roots of Agit-prop are steeped in the union of art and social message in post-revolutionary Soviet Russia. An example is Rodchenko's literacy poster - with the photograph of a young woman shouting: "Read books!" A demonstration of constructivist art technique, it was also the first poser to use a photograph.

Your success at creating Agit-prop video depends on your ability to be on the scene when the critical event takes place. For example, if you want to make an effective Agit-prop video about your community's need for a breakwater, you must be there when the storm is bashing the boat into the rocks. It's not enough to have a community leader simply talking about the need.

Agit-prop videos should be short and to -the- point; use television news stories as your model. Think of beginning with your strongest visual image; then fill in the background, and end with your message stated as clearly and concisely as possible.

Agit-prop videos can be sent to decision makers; other communities or volunteer groups, or they can be shown on community television.




Letters have been an essential utilization of participatory media since the dys of film. With the advent of cheap, reuseable videotape more than 20 years ago, it became obvious that sending tapes back and forth was an effective means of communication.

During the development of the Fogo Process, it was discovered that film or video messages allowed ordinary people to send their messages direct to decision makers and get answers in return. These messages also became part of conflict resolution because it allowed potentially opposing groups to view each other's point of view removed from direct confrontation. Video letters permitted the sharing of information among peers.

Today video letters are often used to develop cohesiveness in volunteer groups with branches which are geographically distanced.

Groups can even start chain letters so one message is sent by one branch to another and then to another, with each branch adding its own message to the end of the tape. In such a case, the tape is simply paused in the camcorder at the end of the previous message and then the volunteers begin the new message.

Video insert can be used to add a new scene over tape shot of someone talking, for example at a meeting, while audio dub makes it possible to add voiceover on a visual already shot.

If the camera operator plans to shoot scenes while at the same time talking, it may be advisable to buy a cheap clip-on mic because often other sound, such as traffic, will drown out what is being said to the on-camera mic. An external mic for your camcorder is a good investment.




1. The most common problem in video is audio. Use an external mic. Use headphones.

2. The video camera reads light like you would with dark sunglasses - make sure you have enough light. Also keep the light source behind you - don't shoot into the light, sun or bright sky.

3. The mistakes of amateur video are often the camera waving around all over the place with constant zooming in and out. Use a tripod to keep the camera steady. Use your zoom control to frame the picture.

4. Think of your video image in a picture frame. Try at all times to have a picture that's pleasing to the eye.

5. The advice of the Russian photojournalist, Rodchenko, was: Think before you shoot, while you shoot and after you shoot. An American writer named Smith says: The time you spend not planning before you shoot will be spent apologizing after you shoot. Finally, an Anglo/American advertising mogul, David Ogilvy says the secret is KISS - keep it simple stupid.




Audio/video dubbing with a Sony TR-400 camcorder and a source deck. The method described here uses a vcr as source and camcorder as recorder because camcorders have flying erase heads so editing can be done without those annoying rainbow lines. However, lots of camcorders can't be used as recorders; in this case, use the vcr as recorder and the camcorder as source.

NOTE:Both audio and video cannot be inserted in the middle of an already recorder video. The video/audio will break up when the copying is completed. You'll see snow. If you want to add your voice (or music) while the tape is being recorded, connect your vcr audio out and camcorder audio in to a mic/audio mixer. Radio Shack has a good one for less than $200.

1.Connect audio/video cables from audio/video out on the source deck to the inputs of the camcorder. Where one unit has stereo (left and right audio tracks) and the other is mono (one audio track), you'll need a Y adaptor. The Sony inputs/outputs are the same; the machine automatically to input when it detects the signals.

4.Play the tape in the source deck until you find the point where you want the audio/video dub to begin.


6.Play the tape in the camcorder until you find the point where you want the audio/video dub to begin.


8.Press PLAY and RECORD at the same time on the camcorder.

9.At the same time on both the source deck and the camcorder, press PAUSE/STILL.

10.Press PAUSE/STILL on the camcorder when the audio/video dubbing is complete.

11.If you plan to add another segment, don't cut too close to the final words/action.

12.Press STOP.

(Some machines have synchro-edit connections so you can control pause of both units with one wired remote. The Sony has a LANC terminal which means it can be controlled by computer software or relatively inexpensive editing controllers, such as the Videonics Thumbs-Up.)




Community newsletters and volunteer group newsletters are popping up everywhere in the age of the photocopier.

Some are put togther by computer professionals using desktop publishing software and then produced by offset printing companies. Others are created with manual typewriters and plastic stencil cutouts for large type.

Whatever the method of production, the newsletter will be better received if it is put together well and designed for optimum readability. Too often prospective newsletter readers are presented with a mass of seemingly endless gray type.

Photos and graphics utilized in a pleasing-to-the-eye design can help make your newsletter more popular among its target audience.

Another tip is to try and get as much participation as possible from your volunteers and readership.

Ryakuga's Newspaper-in-a-Box (Canadian patent file # 2,055,249-2) is designed to be participatory - both as a kit and as a process. The kit is custom-made, following consultation about the aims and interests of the group.

One problem of putting out a newsletter in the computer era is that there's too much work for the computer expert. Newspaper-in-a-Box is designed to be put together by a group of people; there are lots of jobs to suit all kinds of skills and interests.




The best principle of design is David Ogilvie's acronym - KISS - keep it simple, stupid. As a designer, you arrange pleasing-to-the-eye patterns with three basics - graphics (including photos), type, and white space. White space is important; give your pages room to breathe. But keep the white space to the outside - don't trap it in the middle of the page.

Let's use an 8 1/2 x 11 photocopied newsletter as a design problem.

Use dummy pages or sketches to design your newsletter. Use a broad marker to arrange your stories and photos in a pleasing design. Mark in the size of photos and the first few words of the cutline/headlines. You can use page "flags" (title of the page like sports or poetry in a box at the top of the page) so you can "departmentalize" your newsletter according to content categories. Your dummy represents a page 8 x 11; it begins vertically one half inch below the top of the page and ends one half inch from the bottom of the page.

Newspaper tradition demands a separation of news and editorial content.

This means that your reader can expect news stories to be objective and true while editorials state the way the newspaper thinks things should be.

Another separation is the difference between editorial and opinion. Generally speaking, an editorial identifies a problem and suggests a solution. Opinion articles are just that, and should be placed on separate pages.

This may seem like nitpicking but your newsletter will gain more credibility if you can manage to effectively (and obviously) separate fact and opinion.

The editorial page can also include a "masthead" which lists editorial policy, staff and ownership of the newsletter. Maybe you can also find a cartoonist to produce art for this page.

It would seem appropriate for a participatory communication newsletter to contain as much input as possible from your readers. This could range from the entire newsletter to special pages for this purpose.

While remembering to keep it simple, have fun and be inventive designing your newsletter.

As Keith Pearson says: If it looks good, then it is good.




First let's work on the front page. For fax newsletter size, see tip sheet 9E.

Make a nameplate (the name and logo of your newsletters) and place it evenly on an 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper one-quarter inch from the top of the page. Type out the date of issue and tape it on the nameplate. (Magic Tape is your only choice.)

Choose your best black/white photo and tape it on the page one-quarter inch below the bottom border of the nameplate.

Type out the cutline for the photo with 6 1/2 inch wide margins and tape it below the photo.

If there's room for a story, tape the headline one-quarter inch below the cutline.

Your stories should be carefully edited for misspellings (Oxford English Dictionaries and Canadian Press Caps and Spelling/ Styleguides are recommended) before they are typed or computer-printed three inches wide for standard newsletters.

A computer printer will automatically sort out your story to equal the length of the lines according to the right margin. However, it's a bit more complicated with a typewriter.

It's probably better to set your margins about 2 5/8" wide (use a ruler). This means you will usually have time to finish typing any word after the bell rings. Experiment! Theoretically the lines of your story should be
straight across the page in two columns.

For the purposes of a community newsletter, it may be too difficult to ensure all lines of the story are straight across two columns.

But you can make sure the first and last paragraphs are straight. Cut your stories between paragraphs to space out the story to fit the space.

A Newspaper-in-a-Box kit includes an editorial flag (title of the page in a box at the top). It's easy to make your own.

Cut out the appropriate flag and magic-tape it on the page one-quarter inch from the top.

Type out a page number and magic-tape it on the flag at the outside corner of the page. The right-side is the outside corner for odd-numbered pages and the left-side is the outside for even-numbered pages.
Layout for the rest of the pages of your newspaper works the same as page one.

Take your time and try to ensure your pages are neat, straight and even.

To rephrase Smith's pop-video rule, the time not spent being careful about layout, will be spent apologizing after publication.

Sloppy layout means your reader will simply doubt the truth of what you print. Sloppy spelling, especially of people's names, has the same effect.

Layout is greatly simplified with a light-table.

A light-table is a box with a glass top and light inside. On top of the glass, you can tape a page of horizontal lines and vertical lines on the edges of the columns. If your layout page is taped on straight, it's relatively easy to ensure, using a ruler, that your columns, photos and headlines are straight both vertically and horizontally.

Even if you use a piece of plywood instead of a light-table, taping a piece of paper (bigger than 8 1/2 x 11) upon which you have drawn strong, black vertical and horizontal lines, will help your layout process.

Putting together a newsletter is a participatory exercise. Some people write; some people edit - but all their efforts won't achieve communication potential unless you can locate people who enjoy putting together a neat, readable page.




Useful materials - x-acto knife; scissors; ruler; magic scotch tape; a sheet of cardboard; a pasteup guide.

Some people love pasteup; some people hate pasteup. But it has to be done and sloppy pasteup will nullify all the work that's gone into writing good stories and processing great photos.

It's a lot easier to pasteup if you have a light box or a drafting board and T square.

If you don't, take the Ryakuga pasteup guide (or make your own by drawing the column sizes on a sheet of 8 1/2 by 11 paper) and tape it to a piece of bristol board or cardboard. Tape another 8 1/2 x 11 sheet on top of the pasteup guide.

The horizontal lines on the pasteup guide are helpful in keeping your headlines, photos and copy straight on the page.

Don't paste anything outside the vertical lines. That is, all copy and photos fit inside the vertical lines which are 6 1/2 inches apart. The vertical lines are the outside edges of your page.

Horizontally the page starts one-half inch from the top and ends one-half inch from the bottom.

First tape your page numbers to the pages.

Photos are difficult to cut. Use a razor cutter and place your ruler as a guide; cut on the outside edge of the ruler. Cut your vertical sides first. Photos are often taped on last (cut them last to fit).

Cutlines are 6 1/2 inches wide for standard newsletters- like the photos. Cut them out and tape them below the photo.

The stories - or copy - will be typed on columns 3 inches wide. Tape them on the page so the lines are even and each column begins and ends on the same line. To make your story space out even only cut between paragraphs.

You may have to throw away a few paragraphs to make your story fit.

After pasteup simply photo-copy the pages with page 2 on the back of page one and so on.

For standard size newsletters, you'll get a better product if you use 11 x 17 paper and tape four of your original pasteups to both sides of the 11 x 17. When you finish photocopying, simply fold the 11 x 17 to get your pages. No stapling is required.

But be careful which pages you assemble together.

Have fun!




Fax newsletters developed because of a need to circulate internationally by fax machine. Newsletter masters were faxed to other countries where they were photocopied for distribution.

Then the smaller size (based on a folded lengthwise legal size paper) appealed to other grassroots communicators. It also means you can fold the eight and one half by fourteen inch paper without stapling.

So... if you want to do the smaller newsletter, please substitute these measurements.

The page is laid out five inches wide and seven and one half inches deep. The folio line is placed at the top or bottom one half inch from the edge of the paper. The first column starts one inch in from the left edge.

Each column is two and one quarter inches wide with a half inch gutter. This means photos are printed either five inches or two and one half inches wide.

If you try to fax a newsletter, it will probably work better if you also fax an instruction sheet which outlines how to copy certain pages on the backs of others. For example, in a 20 page newsletter (a folded newsletter has a page length in multiples of four), pages 2 and 19 are on the back of pages 1 and 20.

You may have to photocopy your newsletter before faxing it (try not to, because every additional time you photocopy copies of your original), the quality gets worse. E-mailing your newsletter, if you created it on computer, is an interesting idea.




(Thanks very much to Evelyn Riggs)

Imagine learning and having fun too! Songwriting is a creative technique of summarizing group discussion of specific topics and/or life experiences. It is also a method used to share information and to build a collective understanding of an issue. Everyone can participate, so there is no need for trained singers or musical ability.

Number of people: Small groups of 6 ideal for maximum participation. Can be done with a larger group.

Time required: 1 hour.

Materials: Flipchart paper
Masking tape
Felt markers
Musical instruments (optional). Could be spoons, pots and pans, peas in plastic containers, washtub... use your imagination.

Theme: The theme can relate to a general area of interest (eg., development) or more specific (Fisheries co-ops). The theme may also reflect participants' real life experience around an issue.


* Choose a theme. Participants usually choose the theme from a list developed in the larger group.

* Divide participants into groups of 4-6. It is useful to have a facilitator, time-keeper and a recorder.

* Give the group a task sheet. It helps to make the task clear for everyone. (See below).

* Each group brainstorms thoughts and ideas around the theme. These are then priorized.

* Choose a well-known tune so that people can sing-along (eg., Solidarity Forever, I'se the Boy). If more time and creative energy is available, you can create your own tune. Make a quick decision on the style - blues, jazz, rock 'n roll, pop, rap, reggae, calypso and so on.

* Using the words and ideas from the brainstorm, create lines for the song. A recorder quickly jots down all lines and phrases made by the group in a stream of consciousness. Encourage everyone's participation. As people come up with the lyrics, keep singing them to the tune to ensure they fit the song.

* When finished, or the group is reminded there is little time left, the lyrics are written on flipchart for everyone to use.

* Check the lyrics against the main points to make sure everything is covered.

* Rehearse the song a couple of times and add musical instruments to liven up the presentation.

* Present the song, with flipchart visible to the large group, to encourage them to join in on song. If possible, tape the presentation.
* Since this kind of activity is very energizing, it is best to focus discussion on how the song might be used.


One hour to complete.

The task of this group is to write a song about Federal Budget Cuts to Women's Centres in Newfoundland and Labrador.


Brainstorm thoughts and ideas around issue &
record on flipchart 15 minutes

Choose a well-known song. 5 minutes

Use words and phrases from the brainstorm to create
lines (Someone quickly jots down all lines and phrases,
while the group keeps singing the song.) 25 minutes

When the group is satisfied, record lyrics on a clean
sheet of flipchart paper. 5 minutes

Rehearse (use instruments, especially homemade
ones) 10 minutes

Return to large group for presentation.


(Tune: We shall not be moved. A few verses-there were 9 in all.)

Wilson cut our centres, we shall not be closed (Repeat)
We fight for justice, freedom and equality
We shall not be closed

We're working to end violence, we shall not be closed (Repeat)
We fight for justice, freedom and equality
We shall not be closed.

Collins, Weiner, Wilson. We shall not be closed
Brian Mulroney we shall not be closed
We fight for justice, freedom and equality
We shall not be closed.


* This exercise is a good group builder and is fun.

* It helps summarize and priorize the most important points of an issue or topic.

* It encourages creativity and contributes to our own writing of history and culture.

* The song, once written, is an empowering action for participants.

* Songs can be used as an action around an issue. Some suggestions are: demonstrations, rallies, newsletter items, or performances at meetings and/or conferences.



(Tune: I Walk the Line)

I keep my eyes wide open all the time
I read job ads in print that's large and fine
Because my job skills aren't what they have in mind
I do my time, I stand in line


As I was fishing in the great Atlantic
I saw an oil rig, it looked gigantic
The fish were running and going frantic
Swimming away from you and me.

This land ain't your land, this land ain't my land (Chorus)
From Clarenville to Bartlett's Harbour
From Holyrood to Conception Harbour
This land's been robbed from you and me.










1. Research your decision maker. Prepare a file with biographical material and press clippings. If possible, identify "Achilles' heel".

2. Attend your meeting in a group of three - if possible, with different temperaments and skills. Don't be belligerent but remember the "hard cop, soft cop" strategy.

3. Strategize. Know exactly what it is you want. Learn to say what you want clearly and succinctly.

4. Do your homework. Attend the meeting with information in files at your fingertips.

5. If your interview is only considered round one of a long confrontation, set a short term goal for each meeting - even if this is just a firm commitment for another date.

6. Invite the press. Be ready to make an impromptu statement after the meeting.

7, Debrief immediately following your meeting. Tape the discussion and take notes. This information is important for future meetings.

8. Don't be intimidated by the public position of your decision maker. These people are just ordinary human beings like you or me. And, when you consider the reason for your meeting, they may be a lot less intelligent. Be aware people in power often play games to make themselves seem more important.

9. There are many strategies, some more subtle than others, of meeting those who consider themelves powerful, and levelling the playing field. When the Americans entered North Korea to negotiate the end of the Korean War with the Chinese, they found the legs of their chairs had been cut very short so they were forced to look up and across the table at their opponents.

10. Think about body language.




The ability to produce black and white photos is a great skill for community newsletter, poster and brochure people who want to make grassroots community communication.

These skills are also useful for community groups desiring access to mainstream publications. Try to include an interesting black and white photo with each press release. Identify and give assignments to your group photographers. In rural areas, it's often very difficult for understaffed media to attend every event.

Black and white photos are best because they reproduce much better. Color photos tend to be very dark when reproduced in newspapers and magazines. Color photos is magazines are often shot as slides and then put through an expensive process of color separation.

(NOTE: With computers and digital cameras, the technology is changing. In our community work, we are using color photos scanned to disk and printed as black and whites on laser and inkjet printers. We also capture video stills and print them the same way.)

Check out the photo tip sheet and frame your shots carefully. Get in close.

If using Newspaper-in-a-Box, make your photos either three inches or six and one half inches wide. (You can use a border around smaller commercially reproduced photos.) Experiment with the exposure (lightness/darkness) control before copying pages including a photo.

Photographs can add extra appeal to photocopy posters or lampoons. Just use Scotch Magic Tape to stick the photo to your original copy.

If you decide to make black and white photography a go, the first step is to access a darkroom - whether it's in a high school; cadet lab; local photography business, or a private home. Keep looking - there's lots of darkrooms around, often unused.

It can be difficult to find black and white film; buying bulk film and rolling your own is cheaper and can provide constant access. Also you can roll as many frames as you need; you don't have to shoot a whole roll for one photo.




1. Use black and white film. Send in your film, photos, negatives, with the people identified by name, place and position/occupation (left to right) as well as what they are doing.

2. Take photos of something happening/people doing things - not photos of big groups/people standing staring at the camera.

3. Technical problems aside, bad photos are generally caused by:

(a) Poor focusing - practise with an empty camera, quickly focusing on random objects.

(b) Standing too far away from the subject - get closer, shoot the subject not the background.

(c) Never changing point of view - many people shoot as if their bodies are old fashioned tripods; kneel, shoot from an angle - stand on a chair.

(d) Not aiming at the subject - pay attention to what you want in the viewfinder - the action.

(e) Lack of pre-visualization; the photographer has no idea of what he/she wants the printed photo to look like - plan your shots.

4. Summary - newspapers are about people; make in-close shots of people doing things your photographic aim.




We use Paterson plastic reels and film tanks. A daylight lightproof bag is handy for taking film out of the original canisters and placing in the tanks. You'll probably need a bottle opener to get the canisters open (NOTE: unless you use reuseable cannisters; the plastic ends pull off while you can pop off a metal cap by pushing on the end of the roll)- use blunt scissors to snip the leader off the film. We also snip off the corners to make the film load easier on the Paterson reels. Make sure the top section is secure on the tank before taking it out of the bag or turning on the room light.

We use AGFA Rodinal developer and 400ASA AGFA film. Twenty degrees centigrade or 68 degrees fahrenheit is the magic (best) temperature in the darkroom. All chemicals and the water should be within several degrees of each other or the print definition will look like lumpy sand (not good). We use water instead of stop bath and AGFA fixer.

Don't carry the tank around during development - the heat from your hands will warm the chemical.

1. Warm up chemicals by running water over the bottles to 20°.

2. Set water temp to same as chemicals.

3. Run water thru tank for about a minute.

4. Developing time is 7 minutes.

5. Start clock when developer is in tank.

6. Tap tank to get rid of bubbles (don't break it).

7. Agitate 10 seconds. Turn the tank upside down twice.

8. Agitate for 5 seconds every 30 seconds. Turn the tank upside down once.

9. Throw away developer.

10. Run water through the tank for about a minute.

11. Fix for 4 minutes. Tap tank to get rid of bubbles. Agitate continuously.

12. Wash for 20 minutes.

13. Agitate in Photo flo for 1 minute.

14. Hang film to dry and only handle it by the edges. (put a clothes pin on the bottom to hold it straight).
Don't squeegee the film.

15. Handle dried film very carefully to avoid scratches.




(Thanks to Gwen Lawson)

1. Clean dust and hair off negatives. Handle by edges.

2. Put negatives in negative carrier shiny side up and upside down.
3. Turn enlarger on and open lens to brightest.

4. Move lamphouse up or down for desired print size.

5. Turn focusing knob until picture comes sharp: use grain focuser if you have one.

6. Stop lens down two clicks. f11 or f8.

7. Turn off enlarger.

8. Use a test strip to determine correct exposure time.

9. Slide exposed paper into developer face down, push under, rock tray.

10. Turn paper after 20 seconds, rock tray, don't remove print.

11. Develop 60 seconds or pull if desired.

12. Pick up and drain: print is still developing.

13. Agitate print in stop bath or water for 30 seconds.

14. Place print in fix face down and agitate.

15. After 1 minute print can be inspected in outside room. Carry in tray to prevent dripping.

16. Wash prints 5 minutes.

17. Squeegee and hang to dry.




It's not easy to get people to come to public meetings nowadays. If possible, you might consider putting your public forum on as a community television phone in while at the same time inviting a live audience.

The purpose of the public meeting is obviously to stimulate as large an audience as the hall will hold into an inteligent discussion of your topic or issue. First you have to get the people to the hall and then you have to motivate them to talk and listen.

Local people will know best how to get people to the meeting. Lists of phone numbers and a phone tree can convey a personal invitation to the community.

Organizers should pre-publicize the event as much as possible. Press releases; posters; paid advertisements; notices in church bulletins and on community television; public service announcements on radio, and interviews in the media will all let the people know that the forum will happen.

Think of what municipal units, clubs, organizations or unions have an interest in your topic or issue. Pay them a visit and deliver a personal invitation. Make sure the people know the building where you intend to hold the forum.

Consider your targeted audience for the forum. Make sure the meeting doesn't conflict with regular scheduled events. Ask around to determine whether there are other special events in the community on the night of your meeting.

A social, featuring singers, a dance or refreshments, after the forum can not only draw a larger audience but can also create an atmosphere for creative discussion. Sometimes folk singers might write songs or theatre groups could produce skits which could focus discussion during the forum. Make sure that these features are advertised.

Think of your purpose - to fill the hall.

Room ergonomics, as Larry Jackson once said, are very important in encouraging real discussion at a public meeting.

1. Don't use the stage unless you're a politician or civil servant who wants to talk down to the people. Bring your panels and "experts" down to floor level.

2. Place your head table or panel on the long wall of the hall so you don't end up with everybody in the back rows 99 feet away from possible dialogue.

3. Don't place the chairs in straight rows. Instead wrap them in a horse-shoe shape around the head table. Place your front row as close to the head table as possible.

4. If you're using mics and a sound system (or recording the event itself) make a couple of aisles through your horse-shoe and put mics and stands towards the back of the audience rather than the front. Consider putting a couple of Oprahs in the audience with long cords (or wireless mics); this could encourage the people to talk who won't walk up to the stand.

5. When faced with a choice, we've put one mic at the front to share among the panel and the remainder in the audience with extroverted Oprahs. The purpose of a public forum is presumably to get the people to talk. Similarly, we've also asked 'experts' from outside to speak from the audience while the panel includes local people to give a community perspective.

6. Popular theatre skits and short video or film clips can be used to trigger discussion during the meeting.

7. Choose an able moderator who can turn off panelists when they drone on; stimulate discussion from the audience -live or at home, and defuse arguments when tempers flare.

8. If appropriate, try to have your forum end with resolution and commitment to action.




Community radio is becoming an increasingly important tool for people's groups around the world. However, most community radio is illegal and in Canada, it's no easy job to get a licence from government unless you have lots of money.

It's possible for a volunteer group to request information from the Canadian Radio-telecommunications Commission. In Newfoundland and Labrador, write

Bank of Commerce Building,
1809 Barrington Street, Suite 1007,
Halifax, Nova Scotia.
B3J 3K8

At present the only community radio stations in Newfoundland and Labrador are operated in La Grand' Terre; Sheshasiu; Nain; Hopedale; Davis Inlet; Ringolet, and Makkovik.

Community radio is cheap. If the government would let you, it would be possible to go on air for as little as $5000. FM radio transmitters can be bought from:

Mallard Concepts Limited,
13 Southdown Ave., Brixham, Devon,
TQ5 0AP, United Kingdom
Radio Free Berkeley,
1442 A Walnut St. #406,
Berkeley, California, 94709

Ramsey Electronics Inc., 793 Canning Parkway, Victor, New York 14564, makes a micro FM transmitter for about $30 US.

Radio Free Berkeley was in 1995 involved in a landmark legal case which seems to indicate unlicenced radio in the USA is neither legal nor illegal. In the US, it appears that on certain frequencies you can operate a transmitter of less than .1 watt.

But in Canada unlicenced radio broadcasts are very illegal. We don't advise anybody to take part in pirate radio activity.

But if you manage to get a licence, you are not required to provide continuous broadcasting with community radio. Your scheduling can be for a few hours a week or less.

Community radio will probably work best if the radio society is an umbrella organization with representation from different groups in the community.

The skills are easy to learn; people can work in the area of their interest, whther on-mic, technical or organizational.

However, until the political climate of this country changes to permit the democratization of the media called for by a federal task force in 1986, most volunteer groups in Newfoundland and Labrador are restricted to paid commercials, public service announcements, and open-line for their share of air time.




The first rule of teleconferencing is to RELAX - take it easy. Don't be shy. All you're doing is having a "telephone" conversation with a group of friends.

Teleconferencing makes it possible for a group of people to get together and talk without the expense of plane tickets and hotel reservations.

Arrive early to the teleconference site and have a chat with the people there so you can loosen up and be eager to join the conversation when the teleconference begins.

The set-up of the room should be user-friendly. The literature recommends one microphone to two or three people but this is not always possible. Sometimes a group of people might have to share one mic. If this is the case, don't put the mic at the front of the room so participants have to get up and walk in front of the group before they can speak. If possible, have the group sit together around the table with the mic in the centre at reaching distance when you have something to say.

You will be participating in a friendly discussion (or argument) but remember participants at other sites can't see you. This may seem obvious, but teleconference participants often forget to identify themselves before they talk. It's important to let other people know who you are.

When the teleconference begins, your site will be asked to confirm that it is on the network. There may also be periodic checks during the teleconference.

Often participants get too close and speak loudly into the mic; this causes their voices to become distorted and difficult to understand by others on the system.

In order to speak, hold the press-to-activate black bar on the microphone and talk directly into it from a distance of three to five inches. Don't shout but speak in a normal voice. You may have to move further back from the mic if your voice is too powerful.

Sometimes you may get a howling sound or feedback from the loudspeaker. In such cases, turn the loudspeaker so it doesn't face the microphone or turn down the loudspeaker volume.

A teleconference is usually chaired by a moderator at one site. It is this person's job to keep the discussion flowing according to the agenda of the teleconference. The agenda may be mailed out with other relevant material before the event or it may be set at the beginning of the teleconference.

In either case, the teleconference will be more effective if all the participants, as well as the chairperson, prepare by reading their material and collecting their thoughts on the agenda items before the event.

During the teleconference, it may help to focus your comments to jot down a few notes before you speak. At any rate bring pen and paper to keep track of comments that interest you. You should be told if the teleconference is being taped.

The chairperson should direct the conversation so one topic is dealt with at a time. Comments and questions on the previous topic should be solicited before moving on to the next topic. When pausing, the chairperson should allow enough silence (about fifteen seconds) for people to think about their answers.

The chairperson may also direct questions to a particular person or site. Participants should feel free to ask questions or solicit comments from any other participants.

Participants often remain quiet throughout the teleconference and then everybody tries to speak in the closing minutes. The chairperson requires the closing minutes to summarize the discussion and decisions reached during the teleconference. It is also important that this time be used to clarify what follow-up action will be taken and who will do it.

Moral: Don't wait until the teleconference is almost over before trying to express your views.

Remember teleconferencing in Newfoundland/Labrador has a busy schedule and sites often have to be disconnected precisely on schedule.

NOTE: Organizers of teleconferences may note that it often takes three weeks to get materials and agendas out to the participants. It's difficult to run a teleconference when participants don't have the prior information you assume they do.

Finally: Have fun, relax and enjoy the discussion. But remember - don't get on a soapbox and make speeches; this teleconference is a conversation - two-way communication in which we all should get a chance to participate.




In Russia after the revolution, literacy for everybody was an important goal. The country was very poor, especially since the Western governments were very hostile towards this new social experiment.

Newspapers for the people were an important part of promoting literacy, but it was difficult to find money to support a large circulation. So the practice grew of "publishing" the newspaper on an exterior wall where people could go to read the news.

During the Chinese Cultural Revolution of the 1960s, the students and Red Guard put up thousands of "big character posters" on the walls of buildings to promote their point of view.

Now, when we talk of communication, it's often in terms of modern technology, such as radio and television. But, if we look around in our communities, we see that ordinary people have developed many methods of communicating.

One popular method, found everywhere, is the bulletin board.

This is the origin of the concept of the Ryakuga Newspaper Wall.

Most community groups will find they have access to bulletin boards, whether in schools, churches, clubs or stores. However, access is usually restricted to a notice or a small poster.

Bulletin boards could be designed as a communication tool, for readability and to attract an audience.

It's probably possible to access whole bulletin boards in the community, even if for a limited time.

The prototype Newspaper Wall, constructed for the 1994 Nova Scotia Youth for Social Justice Camp, consists of four hinged/free standing four feet by seven feet panels - each covered with cork.

It is proposed that panel one will be designed and constructed by the newsletter/photography teams. The design would probably be similar to newspapers or magazines.

Panel two could be used for administrative purposes - messages from co ordinators. Facilitators could also use the panel to give information about their workshops.

Panel three might be the opinion page. People could express their opinion (in writing or cartoons) about aspects of the camp, the network or society at large.

Panel four is another participation page and probably most accessible. It would include personals, birthday greetings, love notes, jokes, drawings and poetry.







(by Jim Marsden)

One of the reasons for using community television in public discussion nowadays is that it is difficult to get people out to a general meeting in the community. But that is not to say that it cannot be done, as witnessed by the number of people who turned out to public meetings in Ramea to save their school and fish plant.

The Ramea Economic Development Corporation has been very effective in its use of Community Round Tables. The procedure is to identify sixteen people in the community and to make sure that they come to participate the discussion. And as economic development officer Jim Marsden tells us, careful planning is essential.

"The term 'round table' suggests an open forum where people with different perspectives can come together to deal with issues of common concern and seek ways of resolving them." ('Guide to Establishing a Local Round Table', B.C. Round Table, 1991.)

History has shown us that major change seldoms happens from the top down but rather from the bottom up. Local Round Tables are multi-stakeholder processes involving a range of participants who collectively reflect the diversity of interests in the community. Local round tables operate by consenus, have a mandate to address sustainability (including social, environmental and economic issues) and act in an advisory capacity to those groups or organizations that are working towards potential development in their community.

The main purpose of the Community Round Table is twofold. On the one hand, it provides the opportunity for ordinary people in the community to participate in a discussion about issues that are relative to them. On the other hand, it is a forum from which community leaders can 'feel the pulse' of citizens in the community on a variety of concerns and use the information that they gather to help them conceive strategies for future development.

Some of the key steps to be taken in establishing a Community Round Table and getting started include:

* ESTABLISHING TERMS OF REFERENCE: Have a clear and concise direction of where you want to go and how you want the Round Table meetings to be coordinated. Terms of reference might include but not be limited to: the number of participants, the selection process, facilitating procedure, role of the organizers and the overall mandate.

* DEVISING A WORKPLAN: Having a focus is essential to a successful round table. It not only permits a relatively smooth flow to the discussion but it also helps to avert the possibility of having important issues excluded. It is useful to determine some important concerns beforehand and have time parameters to ensure that they are discussed. An identified facilitator is an integral part of the process and helps to expedite the plan and generate discussion around issues that were previously agreed to and deemed important to the sustainability of the community.

* DETERMINING THE SIZE AND MAKEUP: Selecting a cross section of people from different walks of life with distinct careers, lifestyles, hobbies and interests has proven successful in many instances. It permits the opportunity for people to become familiar with other points of view with the possibility that a converging of ideas might translate into constructive debate and a plausible resolution to an identified problem in the community.

* SELLING THE CONCEPT: The organizers of Round Tables are always the first to be converted about the necessity for public dialogue and stakeholder debate. Many in the community must, however, be convinced that active participation in 'constructive criticism' is an effective avenue for identifying problems and proposing conceivable solutions.

* EDUCATING THE COMMUNITY: A well informed community is notably more content and normally more understanding than a community that is 'left in the dark', so to speak. Citizens that are accredited with ownership of decisions that are relevant to policy making will subscribe to the resolution and clearly defend it and those directly responsible.