Our View: Tim, Doug, Cari Show

At Issue

Video streaming county hearings

Our View

It’s only a matter of time before county commissioners embrace live streaming video. After all, three’s company

Editorial Board

Suzanne Schlicht, publisher and COO

Lisa Schlichtman, editor

Jim Patterson, assistant editor

Tom Ross, reporter

Diane Moore, community representative

Carl Steidtmann, community representative

The Routt County Board of Commissioners took a step in the right direction this month when it dedicated a high-volume phone line to offering its constituents the ability to call in and listen to live public hearings. But let’s agree, it was a baby step in the digital era.

Our View

It’s only a matter of time before county commissioners embrace live streaming video. After all, three’s company

The call-in line does give access to members of the public who have a particular interest in an agenda item and either cannot leave work or live too far away to make a trip to the courthouse practical.

We think Routt County should plan in its 2016 budget process this fall to fund videotaping and live streaming of its public hearings on the web. This would allow significantly better public access, enabling interested residents not only to watch the hearings live, but also to watch them later at their own convenience.

County Commissioner Cari Hermacinski correctly pointed out Set. 16 that Routt County comprises 2,400 square miles, and it’s a hardship for people in far South and North Routt (the latter on the Wyoming line) to attend public hearings in person. At even greater physical distance are vacation homeowners from other states who often have a significant economic stake in deliberations at the county.

That said, we don’t think a significant number of people will have the patience, nor inclination, to put their cell phones on speaker and listen to the disembodied voices of county officials hold forth, sometimes for hours.

Commissioner Doug Monger wasn’t far off target when he noted the county’s practice of posting audio recordings as soon after the meeting as possible is almost as good as the live call-in service. The county’s commitment is that the recordings will be posted online with a link next to the appropriate agenda item within the week the hearing takes place. Our experience has been that county staff gets those recording posted within a day.

That system allows members of the public to listen at their convenience, but they must hunt and peck through the entire audio recording to find the agenda item they are curious about.

Of course, the city of Steamboat Springs broadcasts City Council meetings live on Comcast Channel 6 (with ample re-runs) through its franchise agreement with the cable provider.

But the city also has a more robust system for posting the proceedings online after its meetings. When the city posts a link to video recordings of City Council, Planning Commission and Parks and Recreation Commission meetings on its agenda page, it tags each agenda item to its location on the videotape. That allows viewers to pick and choose the meeting segments they are most interested in.

Though we find great value in watching city meetings on television, either live or a “re-run,” we don’t think the county needs to immediately take on that expense. We think one relatively inexpensive video camera on a tripod with a wide-angle lens setting and connected to a laptop would be sufficient for the county to live stream videos of its meetings.

Isn’t that what broadband is for? What are we waiting for?

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.