UpNorth Media officials suggested a joint intern program, offering support and video training for a small fee, along with real-world experience, including recording on-campus meetings. NMC could pay the interns as a sort of work study, VanderMeulen said.
“They have staff that can do this, they already have the cameras; it’s just not that hard,” he said. “This really is a question of priorities.”
Vicki Cook, NMC’s vice president of finance and administration, presented a few options and estimated costs at October’s policy committee meeting. They ranged from implementing TCAPS’ recording system at $35,000 annually; to live broadcasting at $47,000 to $55,000 annually; to having UpNorth Media do the job for $7,200 each year.
Cook said she also presented UpNorth Media’s joint intern proposal, but said it still has to be discussed with NMC’s audio tech staff.
She told committee members that audio recording the meetings would cost significantly less.
Bishop said at the meeting that there may be some value to an audio recording until minutes are approved. Currently, written minutes are posted on the NMC website.
The Grand Traverse County Board Commission once hotly debated the same issue before agreeing to a cablecast in the face of a potential lawsuit. Commissioner Herb Lemcool now regards the public access cablecast as a “fabulous tool to keep people in the loop and knowing what’s going on in our community.”
Concerns expressed in the past include whether a video camera would stifle open debate or attract folks showing up just to seek out the TV limelight.
David Poinsett, who sits on UpNorth Media’s advisory committee, said he appreciates the “creative value of uninhibited brainstorming.” But he pointed out that written minutes can leave out important details that a video recording can fully capture.
“It’s not about playing ‘gotcha.’ It’s about public institutions and elected officials being as transparent and widely accessible as possible,” he said.