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What is Civic Media?

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for us, It's Uses of all media
especially network tv
to Keep Chicago (and other cities)

HEALTHY, vital and SAFE

Our work in Chicago is informed by a premise that we take to be axiomatic :

Viable digital-age democracies, cities, states and nations govern themselves effectively by making issue-centered, citizen-participatory uses of the media of their digital-age public communication systems. With respect to public safety in Chicago today, this means using the city's media - especially the local network TV stations to which most Chicagoans turn for their local news, sports and weather - to connect Chicagoans and City Hall in ways that make Chicago SAFE for ALL residents. ​ Currently, mainstream media in all American cities are doing far more to discoNnect and polarize citizens and government than to connect and unify them. These disconnections fuel the widening civic war between left and right, Biden and Trump, Democrat and Republican. Polls indicate that many Americans fear a second Civil War. The obvious, urgent need is to DEPOLARIZE political discourse. And happily, America possesses in abundance all of the technological resources needed to create digital-age connections between citizens and government capable of restoring integrity to political discourse and functionality to governments at local, state and national levels. Yet unaccountably, no political or academic leader or medium in America is even talking about doing so. Instead, America's finest minds are busy either deploring the situation or throwing ideological bricks at each other.   ​This widening citizen/government disconnect between was legalized and thereby normalized by the U.S. Supreme Court in its 2010 decision on Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Today, the biannual blizzards of televised election-time political adver- tising - so-called TV attack ads - increasingly rig election outcomes and further polarize American politics at all levels of government. One hears a lot about allegedly stolen elections these days. But the real story of the breakdown of American electoral process is that of the dollar size of candidate campaign "war chests." Visibly and demonstrably, Big Money politics is driving America inexorably, it seems, towards oligarchy, autocracy or simply civil chaos.    ​In our view, much  THE best response TO POLITICAL ATTACK ADS IS NOT TO OPPOSE OR CURTAIL THEM but to let them be. Don't fight them unless you're going to the Supreme Court. Instead, make them irrelevant. So irrelevant that in time they will actually clean up their act by becoming less abusive and more informational. dynamic uses of media that attract and empower Americans and their leaders to participate in healthier, more productive ways of doing politics. Create digital-age content and programming that restore health to American politics and political discourse.  Accept that politicians at this point live or die by attack ads. Accept also that these ads are a windfall profit center for commercial media. Instead, create ways of doing politics that a) restore functionality to democratic process and b) are windfall profit centers for host media.  ​a SECOND windfall PROFIT CENTER FOR MEDIA? Sure. Take the issue of public safety in Chicago. Chicagoans yearn for safety. Everyone doers. And this yearning translates to a citywide market demand for SAFETY. And this market is the largest of all large markets in Chicago (and the the Chicagoland region). It's a a Market of the Whole of all Chicagoland residents with a stake in the safety of their homes, neighborhoods, community, city and region. The Market of the Whole is best tapped with media programs and formats that BRING OUT THE BEST and not the worst in Chicagoans and their leaders. These safety-focused citizen-participatory and problem-solving programs and formats can build the TRUST Chicago needs to make itself SAFE.  ​To this end, Chicago Civic Media has designed multimedia programs and formats since the 1990s.

Programs and Formats

CCM FORMATS are designed to give all Chicagoans an informed and ongoing voice in the government decisions that affect their lives, as close to real-time as we can make it.  

All are designed to make Chicagoans and City Hall responsive and accountable to each other in making Chicago a safe place to visit, work, play, worship and raise a family.

All CCM formats are public domain. Anyone can tweak, alter, transform and otherwise use or abuse them at no cost.  

Almost all formats are scalable: they can work at local, state, national and even international levels to restore lost trust and functionality to governments.

All are issue-centered. They are strictly non-partisan, non ideological, dialogic and rule-governed. They work to depolarize America's hyper-polarized election-centered political discourse system. In Chicago, for instance, they make it possible for polarized groups like Black Lives Matter and the Fraternal Order of Police to communicate productively.

CCM formats flesh out the premise that the viability of digital-age democracies hinges on their ability to use modern communications technologies to create ways of doing politics and government that realize and optimize the inherent yet newly digital-age capabilities of a democracy to inform, empower and benefit not just some but all of its citizens. 

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