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Public Access TV

In 1984, a piece of legislation called the Cable Franchise Policy and Communications Act became law. This Legislation requires U.S. cable television companies to fund local organizations to provide training and access to media technology and cable distribution on the local cable systems. Public access TV is an excellent example of democracy and a vehicle for free speech for all citizens. Any member of a community may take advantage of public access TV.

Here in Grafton, MA, we have many resources available free of charge, including a TV studio, trainings, and all the equipment needed so that anyone can produce a TV show, either live or pre-recorded. Grafton Community Television manages three channels, 11, 12 and 13. Channel 11 is for general interest (public access) programming, Channel 12 is for local government programming, and Channel 13 features school programming and high school sports events. Three channels are fairly common on public access television and is called “PEG access”, short for Public, Educational, and Governmental.

Aaron is very interested in film making and spends much of his free time making movies, including filming, acting, and editing his own movies for youtube. He would like to eventually work in the film industry. Last summer he took the GCTV Kids Summer Video Class and he really enjoyed the class.

A couple of times a year the station also offers adults a producers class. Aaron wanted to take this class too, but since he is under 18, he needed an adult to be responsible for him and he also had to get special permission from the Grafton Cable Television Oversight Committee, as well as several references. Permission for Aaron to take the class was granted and last fall Aaron and I took the course together. We both had a great time and we learned so much about television producing. Now, Aaron has is own TV show on Grafton Public Access and I think he is the youngest producer with a regular programing slot. His show is called “Dark Nights of Grafton” and it airs 3 times a week:

Tuesdays at 10:30pm
Thursdays at 11:00pm
and Saturday night at Midnight

Programming schedule

The same show airs 3 times a week for 2 weeks, so he has to have a new video every two weeks. Since he is such a prolific film maker, this is not a problem. He just dropped off episode #17 at the studio yesterday. Some of his earlier episodes are online at: lightscameraaaron.com

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The Grafton News

The Grafton News
The Grafton News

This blog – along with most of my other leisure internet activities – have taken a back seat recently, because I’ve been working on a new project. I’m helping our local newspaper (The Grafton News) build a website. This is a difficult time for printed newspapers. The extinction of newspapers across the US has been in the news quite a bit lately. The younger generation is not that newspaper-oriented; the Internet tends to be their major news source. This, along with the recession has decreased newspaper circulation and so advertising (revenue) has declined. Also, sites like Craig’s List have taken much of the classified ad revenue away from printed papers. Why pay for news or classifieds when you can get it online for free?

That said, small town newspapers seem to be doing much better than big city papers. This is certainly true for the Grafton News. I think there are a number of reasons for this. Small towns focus on local news, which doesn’t typically have to compete with the internet. Small town populations tend to be older and less addicted to the internet than large metropolitan areas. Small town papers cost less and their advertising is more affordable. They also have less over-head than the bigger papers.

Ergonomics is another advantage for the printed news. When I read a paper, I want to sit back, put my feet up and relax. I don’t want to be sitting in front of a computer. And who wants to drag their laptop into the bathroom? E-books like the Sony Reader and Amazon’s Kindle might solve these problems eventually and of course, that would be good news for the environment. But for now, I think the printed newspapers still has plenty of life left, especially in the small towns.

But even small town newspapers can not afford to ignore the internet. These days, every business needs a web site. But how much content do you put on-line without competing with yourself? This is the current dilemma for many newspapers. For now, thegraftonnews.com is an extension of the printed paper, which can evolve over time. Some of the things you will currently find online include feature articles and time-sensitive information. We also have a Grafton News blog and lots of photos from the Grafton News archives, as well as color photos from the printed paper and many extra photos that did not appear in print. We are building an online community forum and are also taking advantage of the popularity of social networking sites such as Facebook and Myspace. We have photos on Flickr and videos on Youtube and of course we are active on Twitter.

Our local paper is currently playing a balancing act between creating an on-line presents and keeping the printed paper alive. The newspaper is over 50 years old, and the original owner is still at the helm. So the paper has a loyal following. The content of the paper is community driven and relies on an active community to tell their stories and accomplishments. This is similar to public access TV, the content comes from the local residents, so the people have control and “ownership” of the content. The printed newspaper has always been a vital and cherished part of our community and I’m so happy to be a part of the Grafton News.

So, this is what has been keeping me busy lately. Stop by thegraftonnews.com and let me know what you think.

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Molly the Giraffe

Molly
Molly (Tufts University photo)

Molly the Giraffe is big news in our small town. Molly was born at nearby Southwick’s Zoo in Mendon, Massachusetts on February 23, 2009. Molly’s mother Mauzy was not producing enough milk, so Molly was transferred to Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine’s Hospital for Large Animals here in Grafton, where she was nursed back to health.

Ours small town tall tale made it all the way to national television when Molly appeared on NBC’s Today Show.

On March, Molly returned home to Southwick Zoo. She has grown about a foot and is now over 5 feet tall and has gained 20 lbs! She is doing great and is very active. She practices walking and galloping. I’m looking forward to meeting Molly when the zoo reopens this spring.

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Grafton Community Ice Skating Party

Lake Ripple is one of Eric’s favorite places in Grafton.  For years I’ve been meaning to get him out onto the frozen lake, but I never seemed to get around to it.  Part of the reason is because I’m paranoid about water.  Not for myself, but for Eric.  Putting a kid in a wheelchair on water is like attaching an anchor around his waist.  If anything bad happens it would be just about impossible to save him.  We took him out on a schooner last summer.  He loved it, but I was just glad to get him back on land!

Yesterday was the annual Grafton Community Ice skating Party on the lake.  Since it has been extremely cold recently, I thought this would be a good and safe time to take Eric out on the ice.  The biggest challenge was the rather big, steep hill we had to climb down to get onto the lake.  Aaron and I made it down OK, but halfway down I was thinking, this is really dumb, how will I ever get him back to the van!  But there was no turning back at that point… Luckily, there where plenty of people around and when I was ready to leave, I asked three strong guys who were hanging around the bonfire if they would help me out and they did.  I had Eric in his jogger, which made it easier.   Each one took a wheel and dragged him up the hill.  It was worth it though as Eric was so excited to go “on” Lake Ripple and he will be talking about this for days.

Here is a photo of the twins. Aaron calls that hat his “Fargo” hat!  Of course, Aaron has his video camera with him in order to get some “stock footage”.

Eric could not believe that he was out in the middle of the lake!

A nice bonfire provided by the Grafton Recreation Department.  OK, this fire did make me nervous.  Why doesn’t it burn through the ice?  I went over and asked one of the guys tending the fire and he said, “I have no idea!”  That was not very reassuring.  However, I knew that they did this bonfire thing every year, so I could only assume that we were safe… I tried googling it when we got home, but couldn’t find an answer. If anyone knows why it’s OK to light a fire on ice, please leave a comment.

Getting dark and cold!  Aaron warming up by the fire.

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