News of Riverton, Lander and Fremont County, Wyoming, from the Ranger's award winning journalists.
CWC board meetings to be streamed live, but not recorded
Apr 3, 2012 - By Joshua Scheer, Staff Writer
After a couple of months of tests and talks, the Central Wyoming College Board of Trustees has decided to stream its monthly meetings live on the college's website through August.
However, the meetings will neither be recorded nor archived for later viewing.
The decision to broadcast the meetings came during the board's meeting March 21.
Vice president for administrative services Jay Nielson said the reason behind streaming board meetings on the Internet is to "provide constituent access" at a minimal cost and impact to college staff.
Chairwoman Caroline Mills asked the board's attorney, Frank Watkins, what the legal considerations were in the situation.
"There's no requirement that the board broadcast and digitally store" meetings, he said.
There are legal issues if the board decided to record the meetings.
"You have to make it available for copying," Watkins said. "A copy of it would be public record."
Currently, the board clerk records written minutes only.
Trustee Judy Pedersen noted that broadcasting and recording the meetings would help provide the board with more transparency.
"In today's digital age, keeping a record of something like this would be of minimal storage," she said.
Chief information officer John Wood agreed, saying there was no technical or financial reason not to record meetings.
Wood said it was his understanding that the Riverton City Council only keeps the recordings of its meetings for two months.
City administrator Steven Weaver said the city records over previous meetings on a rotating basis because of a limited number of tapes.
"It is not the formal record," Weaver said of the recordings.
He added that the city usually has a few months of recordings on hand.
Wood said outfitting the room in the Intertribal Education and Community Center with suitable equipment for broadcasting would cost about $10,000.
"I don't want to spend $10,000 and find out seven people are watching," trustee Colton Crane said.
Board member Charlie Krebs agreed.
Trustee Frank Welty had a different view, noting that the college spends a lot of state and local money. He said people should have access to the meetings.
"Amortized over 10 years ... $1,000 is a small price to pay," Welty said.
In January, the board simultaneously broadcast the meeting online and recorded it so the board could review the end product.
The results were discussed at the February meeting.
"I thought there were a lot of issues with the sound," trustee Scott Phister said.
Trustee Roger Gose also had issue with the tight shots of the speaking individuals, which cropped out the rest of the board.
Several board members reported positive feedback from community members who viewed the meeting the members' request.
Wood said the college has kept the January meeting recording and will make it available for the public as needed.
In March, Gose reiterated the concern with the sound, saying if the board was not heard clearly it could provide misinformation to viewers.
Wood said he would be dedicated to improving the sound quality but also mentioned the possibility of broadcasting side conversations that are "not meant to be heard." He suggested a "push to talk" system that could solve that problem.
President Jo Anne McFarland was absent from the March meeting but left the board her recommendation for moving forward.
Because of the high costs and legal considerations, she wrote, "I would recommend that the board authorize live webcasts only of regular board meetings. We can electronically monitor how many people 'tune in' over the next several months and report back to the board in September."
The recommendation was approved unanimously (Phister was not in attendance), and Nielson confirmed that this does not include $10,000 for better equipment.
The next regular board meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. April 18. The webcast can be found on www.cwc.edu, by clicking on "What's@Central" then "Board of Trustees." A link to the live broadcast will be on that page.