Partnering Research and Industry to Promote Pacific Northwest Media

Mary Erickson Head ShotBy Mary Erickson
Founder and Director of Pacific Northwest Media Research Consortium

This summer, a group of scholars who focus on media in the Pacific Northwest formed an organization to gather their research in one place. I spearheaded the founding of the Pacific Northwest Media Research Consortium in order to highlight the ways in which regional media contribute to the overall cultural makeup of the Pacific Northwest.

I have been researching and working in film and television in the Pacific Northwest for a number of years, and I have seen a huge growth in the strength and vitality of these industries. For example, in 2013, Moviemaker Magazine declared Seattle as the third best city in the U.S. to make movies. Portland came in at number five. The metro area of Vancouver, BC, regularly hosts major TV and film productions, such as Once Upon A Time, Bates Motel, and the latest Godzilla blockbuster. Meanwhile, new film-related ventures have started across the Pacific Northwest region. The Film Factory opened facilities in Kelowna, BC, to provide a hub for filmmakers and other local creatives. After being closed for over a year, a movie theater in Florence, Oregon, reopened as an independent cinema in August under the new name City Lights Cinema. Such a vigorous landscape of media activity signals interest in and excitement about the region and the possibilities of homegrown creative production.

City Lights Cinema in Florence, Oregon.

City Lights Cinema in Florence, Oregon.

I see similar developments in other regional industries, such as video games and Internet. There is public interest and pride in supporting locally-based media, both for the cultural caché as well as for the regional economic benefit. There are also numerous researchers doing really great work about phenomena that impact regional media, and this work could make a positive contribution to the media landscape, strengthening it even more. The Consortium is intended to bring these two elements—the research and the industry—together to facilitate and promote active, vibrant media that stems from and gives back to the region.

This international network of researchers focuses on media in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia, a unique region in its own right with similarities in geography, environment and culture. The scope of media is broad: film, television, newspapers, video games, Internet, radio, and so on. Consortium members bring a range of experience, both academic and professional, to facilitate sustainable, ethical and culturally productive media in the Pacific Northwest. Members specialize in historical, cultural, political and economic dimensions of Pacific Northwest media, including regional minority newspapers, environmental links to media, independent filmmaking communities, Cascadian identities, and the unique relationships that emerge when media crosses the U.S.-Canada border.

We have started a blog about Pacific Northwest media to begin to track some of the phenomena we’ve been witnessing. Some of our articles cover the challenge of establishing public access television in a community; Kelly Reichardt’s 2013 film, Night Moves; and the state of independent movie theaters.

As it grows, the Consortium is also developing resources for those who research and teach about media in the Pacific Northwest. The website will host an online repository of research articles, books, videos and other sources that focus on locally- and regionally-based media. We are also assembling teaching resources to facilitate increased understanding of media in the region.

The Consortium is in the midst of developing partnerships with other regionally-focused academic programs, archives and industry organizations. These relationships will help direct our organizational research agenda starting next year, which will focus primarily on the research needs of the region’s media industries.

To learn more about the Consortium and partnership or member opportunities, visit our website (pnwmediaresearch.wordpress.com), and connect with us on Twitter (@pnwmedia) and Facebook (facebook.com/pnwmediaresearch).

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