Santa Rosa seeks feedback on future of media center

  • Shari Borkin, works on one of her media shows at the Community Media Center of the North Bay on Mendocino Ave., Friday, February 1, 2013. Borkin has been working at the center for six years and posts many of her videos on YouTube. (Crista Jeremiason / The Press Democrat)

Santa Rosa is asking the public what kind of media access it wants in advance of a City Council decision about the future of its community media center.

The city is hosting several meetings this week, another in September, and online forums to learn what kinds of media classes, services, equipment and programming the city should fund.

"We want to hear people's voices," said Eric McHenry, the city's information technology director.

As part of its effort to remain culturally and technologically relevant and financially sustainable, the Community Media Center of the North Bay has hired a new interim executive director, revamped its website and rebranded itself as CMedia.

The new leadership has convinced city officials that the center has a good shot at broadening its base of support in the community, McHenry said.

"Times have changed," he said. "There is a more inclusive and collaborative future ahead with what is now called CMedia."

The center, opened in 1997, has historically broadcast public meetings, managed public access TV channels and provided video production training to residents. Budget pressures have caused city officials to slash funding for the center and urge it to find new revenue streams. The most recent one-year contract for the center cut operating funds from $660,000 to $300,000.

In March, the City Council almost closed the center but agreed to continue funding for it for six months while a community conversation took place about its future.

After a study session on Aug. 27, city officials likely will ask the council for more time to strike an operating agreement with CMedia, McHenry said.

The new interim director is Daedalus Howell, a writer and filmmaker from Petaluma.

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