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Media commons. Governance and sustainability of community media
Community media shape autonomous spaces of public communication and self-expression where the search of common good replaces the aim of profit. For this reason, they can be understood as particular forms of commons, specifically “digital commons” (Fuster, 2010). According Fuster and Espelt (2017), digital commons promote open access and social responsibility in their governance but also in the economic model as well as in the uses of technology and knowledge. In this paper, we apply these categories to reflect on community media through the lens of commons and solidarity economy theories. We analyze the governance and sustainability of 58 free and community media from Europe and Latin America, focusing on identity, internal participation and financial sources. We conclude that these media are expressions of digital commons, governed and managed under the principles of solidarity economy. We also highlight the role of these communities promoting ethics above technics, the process above the product as well as combining social movements, technical work and leisure -leading to “conviviality relations” (Illich, 1985). We end by proposing a taxonomy of free and community experiences striving on their type of governance (Ostrom, 1990), and shedding light on the confusion in legal definitions (community media, non-profit media, third sector media, etc.). Data was obtained by mapping free and community media, using web ethnography, and conducting an online survey in several EU and Latin America countries.