Community Media is referred to by Ellie Rennie (2006) in a broader sense as "Community Communication". Basically, it is difficult to define the term absolutely because it can take so many forms, can be applied by so many different groups of people and refers to such a broad range of topics. However, the premise that community media is an instrument for discussing and involving citizens has some inherent implications. One important implication is that community media are largely independent of the market-driven commercial and mainstream media. This, in turn, allows different models of community media to offer either a broad-based editorial policy or a more precise approach that remains faithful to promoting community engagement. The key features of Community Media provide a clearer understanding of their definition, as well as their depth and dimension to their shape in the citizen landscape (Rennie, 2006: 208).
The South African definition is that community media is either a geographic or a community of interest. Ideally, community media is created, managed and managed for and by the community for which they operate. It can either be a geographic community or one of interest. "Community media is a two-way process in which communities participate as planners, producers and performers, and are more of a means of expressing the community than the community."
It seems easier to formulate an ideal definition of community media than to extrapolate a definition from actual community-based media initiatives locally (McQuail, 1994). The media used varies and, as in the case of video, the medium used sometimes presents a challenge to the concept of civic participation. Ownership and management patterns vary, although they can generally be defined as non-governmental and not enterprise-specific. Equally different is the participation of the community. And the goals are quite specific, even though the goals are generally all in one aspect of community development.
The concept of community media implies that communities that are to be heard at the national level must first be heard at grassroots level. The potential to communicate and communicate is a social good that should be fair, universal and strictly equal. Curran and Gurevitch (1991) state that the whole concept of citizenship requires an informed group of participants of citizens. If we assume that there is a right to communication, this implies an equal individual claim to hearing and hearing. Similarly, Freire (1990) states that the less people are consulted, the less democracy a nation has.
Community broadcasting should stimulate debate on the promotion and protection of human rights and the achievement of sustainable development, including peace and reconciliation, leading to consensus and solidarity (McQuail, 1994). Community Broadcasting is about accessing and disseminating information. It acts as a medium for the flow of information to and from communities on the one hand, and on a national and international level on the other hand (McQuail, 1994). It provides access to the necessary external information and advocacy on issues of concern, with the relevant levels of policy-making dependent on the experiences at the community level and the solutions developed therein. Community Broadcasting broadens the ability of communities to participate in national and international affairs. It has a dual role – that of a mirror (reflecting the community in itself) and a window (allowing the outside world to look at their experiences).
Fraser, Colin and Sonica Restrepo Estrada (2001) argue that community media is an important alternative to the corporate media profit-driven agenda. They are based more on social goals than on the private profit motive. Community media empower people instead of treating them as passive consumers and promote local knowledge rather than replacing it with standard solutions. Ownership and control of community media are rooted and responsible in the communities they serve, and they are appropriate development approaches (Buckley, 2000). The nature and purpose of Community Media Initiatives should be the main determinants. Resource shortages of any kind can be remedied by alternative strategies. Steve Buckley (2000) notes that democracy and communication are inextricably linked, so that the presence or absence of particular forms of communication can be a measure of the limits on which democracy itself has developed or is being held back.
Curran & Gurevitch (1991) argue that the nature of community media is participatory and that its purpose is development, "processes of public and private dialogue through which people define who they are, what they want and how they can achieve it Community involvement is thus seen as a means to an end and an end in itself, and the processes of media production, management and accountability are self-reinforcing, fostering the capacity for critical analysis and confidence in the interpretations and solutions that have been found Medium must therefore be one That enables, reinforces and preserves the participation of the community.
It follows from the above considerations that the choice of media to be used in a local community is necessarily specific to that community. What works in one community may not work in another (Lesame, 2005). For example, gender and age are factors that need to be considered in the discussion of sexuality, but the way they are taken into account varies among different communities. Reading and writing, access to broadcasters throughout the community, knowledge of the symbolism and other visual devices used in audiovisual media are further considerations. The choice of theater, national language newspapers, radio or video – or a combination thereof – is and should be dependent on both internal and external factors (Bessette, 2004).
Internally, the choice should be directed towards the development goals of the affected community and build on what forms of communication already exist, especially where the community concerned has a history or tradition in the field of educational music and dance. And externally, the choice should ensure an easy and effective impact on the national and international actors with whom the Community wishes to speak. For example, video is an effective medium for raising awareness of human rights issues, but it is also a medium that does not necessarily, or typically, allow to explain the complexity of a situation, and therefore can lead to simplified interventions. Participatory community planning to select a medium should take these internal and external considerations into account.