Arlington Independent Media Brings Home Accolades


(Friday, August 3, 2007 8:55 AM EDT)

Some people don't think much of public-access cable television, pigeon-holing it as unprofessional. But Arlington Independent Media tries to buck the trend - and again has been rewarded for its efforts.

AIM recently received the 2007 Overall Excellence in Public Access Award at the Hometown Video Festival held in Minneapolis, marking it as the best public access channel among about 2,000 other stations, nationwide, that were in the running.

The Hometown Video Awards, sponsored by the Alliance for Community Media, recognizes local cable programs and community media that address local needs, develop diverse community involvement and challenge conventional commercial television formats.

This is the fifth time in 17 years that AIM has received the award, but winning it this year may be extra sweet, because it is the organization's 25th anniversary.

“It's the grand prize. It feels great,” said AIM executive director Paul LeValley. “But it's not my award or my staff's award. It's the community's award.”

Arlington Independent Media has more than 500 members who, with the help of staff and volunteer producers and crews, aired 482 new programs totaling almost 6,000 on-air hours last year.

LeValley said he believes the organization's diversity in programming was a key factor in winning the award. Approximately 30 percent of programs are in a language other than English, including Spanish, Vietnamese and Amharic, among others.

Whether members join to film a documentary on an issue they're passionate about, to get a secondary education or just to have fun, the staff at Arlington Independent Media welcomes them and provides numerous master classes and workshops to train them.

“The quality of work here is very high. [The members] do an outstanding job,” LeValley said. “These are Arlington people. They're smart, educated, involved, engaged, cool, diverse and they take it seriously.”

LeValley said AIM will continue to offer high-quality educational programs to its members, and looking to the future, his goal is to use the Internet as a valuable tool.

“We want to bring our public access model to other media,” he said. “We are training in video blogging and podcasting. We want to use new technology to build a real community here in Arlington, and bring a diverse viewpoint to the media.”

Another plan for the future is a major renovation of AIM's broadcast facility, which will cost up to $175,000. The organization hopes to begin construction this fall.

For more information on Arlington Independent Media, visit the Web site at

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