My take: It’s time for video streaming in courtroom and at public meetings

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It’s time for video streaming in courtrooms and government meetings

The trial of State Auditor Kathy McGuiness, which should end this week, proved to be a burden on the state’s shrinking media presence.

A few outlets did embed a reporter in the proceedings, which reportedly featured some fiery moments, as the judge became increasingly irritated about the proceedings dragging on. For busy reporters, being stuck in a courtroom at a busy time of the year meant other goings-on were not covered.

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And based on what is coming out of the McGuiness trial, the myth that keeping video and audio out of the courtroom reduces legal grandstanding is simply not true.

The trial and the pandemic show the need for the state’s judiciary to get out with the program and offer video and audio coverage of high-profile trials. The reason for this is not to allow reporters to multi-task at their offices. It comes down to the need for the public to be informed and engaged.

While Court TV-style coverage and analysis is not a good idea, it would be good for the judiciary to move in the direction of C-Span-style coverage.

The same is true for governmental bodies.

Thanks to the pandemic, streaming coverage of government has been commonplace. However, there are stubborn holdouts, one being Middletown, with powerful Mayor Kenneth Branner and a compliant council going back to in-person meetings.

This does a disservice to the 25,000 residents in a rapidly growing Middletown, now reside in something of a media desert.

With the merger of Gannett (News Journal) and Gatehouse, day-to-day coverage by the Middletown Transcript virtually disappeared, often leaving residents not showing up for meetings in the dark. The powers that be in Middletown might not mind. Coverage can bring controversy and keep in mind that spending tends to increase when coverage goes away.

It’s time for the next session of the General Assembly to require that cities of more than 5,000 offer streamed coverage of their meetings. – Doug Rainey, chief content officer.

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