I think he has a point. I think television and streaming video can give citizens a window into public meetings and the sausage-making of governance. But gavel-to-gavel camera work is not a replacement for good old shoe-leather city hall beat reporting. I’m more interested in what happens in the back rooms before and after the gavel falls. You won’t see that on government cable. As to who pays, well, it’s the taxpayer and the cable subscriber, so most taxpayers are paying twice, once for the access and again for the programming.

“When Video Is King’
– Stuart Watson
And Charlotte is an extreme example since the public pays for cable and for broadcast programming on WTVI. And this happened long before the shift to the digital spectrum. In short, I’m not questioning the value of services like C-SPAN and their local equivalents, but journalism is not stenography nor is it locking down a camera and turning it on whenever the gavel falls. When local television bails on city hall coverage, I’m not sure who will pick up the slack—bloggers? do-gooders? volunteers?—my deep concern is that no one will.

Stuart Watson
Nieman Fellow ’08

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