, Gloucester, MA


October 6, 2008

Fishtown Local

I want to say something about Cable TV.

All the rock 'n roll in the paper about the prices and devices of Comcast dropping channels, requiring set-top boxes and changing the digital deal have absolutely nothing to do with the Cape Ann Cable TV station up at Blackburn Park.

Many folks might not remember that Comcast split off the public access Channel 12 and, for more than a year, it has been an independent entity with no connection to its former corporate owner. It is owned by the people. The Gloucester Daily Times has never been more of a community newspaper than as be the medium for this controversy through grassroots letters from readers who started and answered the issue. More writers joined the fray, and I'm not sure we've heard the last of it. The interesting thing is that there was not a story on the issue. It sprang totally from the community — and your community's newspaper truly performed its job as the free press.

In a likewise manner, your community Cable TV station was approached by a small band of citizens who wanted to make a film about saving the harbor. They didn't have cameras or editing machines or even a producer. But this film sprang from a community group concerned with the pace of alternatives to the fishing industry and wanting to ensure that "the other side of the story" was told.

Slowly but surely, a team formed from the TV volunteers in Gloucester and interviews and filming began. Myths and truths were the targets of the effort, the chief myth being the old chestnut "the fishing industry is dead and will never be back to full strength" and "the entire fishing industry should be located at the State Fish Pier and let the rest go for recreational boats." Fishermen and people of the harbor took the filmers around the harbor to hear and see the truth at water level of the emerging new story of the harbor. The camera doesn't lie. What it saw were boats tied up five and six deep and many, many boats newly arrived from the other New England ports to make Gloucester their new home. Transom after transom reading Bath, Maine; Portsmouth, NH; Marblehead, Portland, Beverly, Newburyport et al have left their home ports as those harbors have closed down as services have disappeared.

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