Members of the North End / Waterfront Residents’ Association, NEWRA, voted 22-2 in favor of a new policy that would allow video and audio recordings at regular monthly meetings. The discussion and vote took place on December 13, 2012 at the Nazzaro Community Center. The official policy is:
Videotaping or audiotaping of NEWRA regular monthly meetings may be allowed under the following conditions: 1) permission to tape is requested in advance of the meeting date and approved by the Executive Committee, and 2) the members are given notice at the beginning of the meeting that it will be taped.
Several residents spoke during the open discussion, mostly in favor of the policy. Attendees pointed to the changes in technology regarding audio and video recording and the evolving media landscape. Some noted their perspective on the issue has changed over time, having seen how video is presented on NorthEndWaterfront.com and other media platforms. One suggestion was to have index cards available in some cases when meeting attendees would rather not speak on tape or in front of the audience.
The new policy would allow the taping of full monthly meetings, including presentations, reports and discussion. Although a private group, NEWRA’s monthly meetings are already open to the public, including the press, at the discretion of its Executive Committee. The group counts over 300 members in the North End / Waterfront community and its monthly meetings bring out as many as 60+ attendees, including members and interested parties. As one of the two recognized North End neighborhood groups by City officials, it often impacts public policy.
Private organizations, such as NEWRA, may partially or fully restrict recordings at their discretion. NEWRA’s committee meetings are not included in the new policy. (The North End / Waterfront Neighborhood Council, NEWNC, is a public body set up by Boston City Hall and subject to the Massachusetts Open Meeting Law that always allows videotaping.)
Editor’s Note: As a citizen reporter / blogger that publishes video recordings, I spoke in strong support of NEWRA’s policy allowing journalists to use audio and video methods. I videotape many community (public and private) group meetings. In my experience, videotaping benefits organizations and the community in several ways: (1) It allows residents to view meetings they cannot attend, increasing the impact of the organization and allowing participation from a broader swath of the neighborhood. (2) Meeting videos break down barriers for those that are not familiar with the role of neighborhood groups by sharing knowledge and encouraging involvement. (3) There will always be a place for private discussion, however, “on the record” meetings provide a credible forum to influence community and public affairs. As such, I commend NEWRA’s Executive Committee for bringing forth the new policy and thank the membership for supporting it.