The University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) - Los Angeles (LA), California, United States (US) - Center for Communications and Community (C3) is a journalism, research, and training institution working at the intersection of strategic communications and social changes, race, and community transformation. The Center seeks to fill the void that exists between community development advocates, grassroots practitioners, the non-profit sector, media research scholars, working journalists, and policymakers interested in community development.
The Center has four core objectives:
1. Build the capacity of community-based organisations to integrate communications concerns into their ongoing policy activities.
2. Encourage and foster stronger relationships between journalists and community-based organisations.
3. Develop and extend a multi-disciplinary research agenda concerning the impact of the news media on public attitudes about a wide range of social issues.
4. Build alliances among community stakeholders, neighbourhood residents, journalists, policymakers, scholars, and opinion leaders to create vehicles that can move "public will".
As stated on the C3 website, "Efforts to introduce "system-reform" initiatives in low-income communities must take into account the powerful influence of mass communications. In particular, important new research shows that news coverage (both print and broadcast) has a profound effect on what issues people believe to be important (agenda-setting); the lens through which they interpret issues (framing); and whether they use this information in making judgements about racial groups, policy preferences, and electoral choices (priming). In short, the news powerfully shapes the ways in which people relate to their communities."
The C3 supports community improvement advocates to develop media relationships that empower community-based organisations to effectively interpret news stories, engage in policy advocacy, and alter the shape and scope of public policy. They also provide resources for journalists in the belief that journalists benefit from a deeper understanding of the communities they cover.
In support of journalism and communities, the centre sponsors and provides online research, such as Prime Suspects: The Influence of Local Television News on the Viewing Public, an analysis of local LA news. It provides an archive of national and international reports on the media, e.g., Facing the Music, A Report Card on Radio Reform Campaigns and News Agendas and Community Participation: A Mexican Model for Change. Other archives include such categories as: "Community Voice" and "Media Ownership". A "Newsstand" section provides articles on community involvement in media, media in the news, international and national news stories on media, and news stories on art and entertainment as media forces, as well as history as a force in the intersection of media, policy, and race. A separate archive is established for online audio and video.
The Center reaches communities and journalists by providing tools and workshops, in addition to research and reports. The Toolbox section provides tools to:
- help build the communications capacity of community-based organisations to effectively integrate media concerns into their ongoing policy advocacy activities, including influencing the production of the media images of their neighbourhoods; and
- provide the news media with information on how improved community connections lead to better news coverage and to provide tools that facilitate improvements in such public engagement.
It includes a community toolbox, a newsroom toolbox, and a schedule of workshops to help community groups and nonprofits understand how to use Strategic Frame Analysis to more effectively communicate with news media and the public.
Included in its community outreach toolbox are the following: links to a multimedia clearinghouse and technology sites with tutorials; outreach tools on holding press conferences, using telephone and email, establishing a networking database, and building website content; and links to "How-to" guides on working with news media, producing an op-ed article, writing public service announcements (PSAs), providing community cable television content, and writing press releases.
Its newsroom toolbox includes:
- A Journalist's Toolbox covering such topics as "Covering Crime", "Across the Great Class Divide", "Editors Must Be Learners as Well as Teachers", and "Race Vertigo".
- A Diversity Toolbox including such titles as: "Include Blacks in 'Green' Coverage” and "Diversity is Accuracy".
- A Credibility Toolbox including such titles as: "The Gender Gap" and "Journalists Call for Community Feedback to Improve Credibility ", as well as yearly reports on the state of news media.
Media Development, Rights.
According to the Center, the most notable trend in news production is the fact that local television news has become the predominant source of information about public affairs. "Additionally, news 'teasers' are run virtually all day long to promote various programs....A growing body of research shows that media-driven stereotypes of [economically] poor minorities as 'prime suspects', 'superpredators', or 'welfare queens' have a disturbingly corrosive effect on 'public will'. Studies show that such portrayals or 'scripts' reinforce negative views of minority groups and increase support for harsh, punitive policy remedies.... More troubling is the finding that racial cues in the news may even erode support from constituencies historically committed to progressive social change.... Racial imagery in the news, therefore, has a direct bearing on rebuilding activities in urban neighborhoods. Such an environment makes it difficult to argue that these neighborhoods are worthy of public (or private) investment."
Editor's note: As of September 2009, the website is being maintained. However, there will be no new community outreach because the funding programme has expired.
Partners: University of California Los Angeles, Frame Works Institute.
Funder: The Annie E. Casey Foundation.
UCLA Center for Communications and Community website accessed on May 11 2009; and email from George White to The Communication Initiative on May 12 2009.