As far as municipal politics go, Taber made history on Monday when it live streamed its council meeting for the very first time inside council chambers.
The live-streams will occur during each regular and special meeting of council, and recordings will subsequently be made available on the town’s official YouTube page.
Livestreaming refers to online streaming media simultaneously recorded and broadcast in real time to the viewer.
Given council meetings have been moved to 3:30 p.m., a time where many full-time working Taberites cannot attend, council should be applauded in this move in adding a level of transparency to their proceedings.
Any extra avenue the general public can use to stay in contact with its town council and administrators is making forward progress.
There was some fear by councillor Jack Brewin at the time when the camera system was first approved prior to the renovation of chambers, that clips could be edited to malign or denigrate town council.
While that may be true, having the livestream in its entirety is the perfect defence, while also vilifying anyone who would attempt to do such an underhanded thing.
There has been some trepidation among media circles that councils livestreaming their meetings would make their jobs obsolete. The Taber Times does not have that fear.
The newspaper still departmentalizes the bigger topics of the day of the council meeting for the consumer so they do not have to wade through a meeting in its entirety in a livestream, which the reporter does for the reader in condensing information. The newspaper also offers a product that goes far past council meetings with business advertising, editorials, columns, sports and entertainment news and features on people and organizations that are making a difference in their respective communities. As technology advances, in a world that is more and more stressing viewing computer/television screens, newspapers online or hard copies, encourage reading and literacy.
Just as the public demands more transparency from its municipal government, livestreaming meetings can take the media to task as well for accuracy which The Times welcomes with open arms. Some (not all) who vied for a town council seat back in October 2017 brought up the ‘Fake News’ narrative during the candidate debate at the Heritage Inn, throwing shade the Taber Times’ way.
For any moment that a reader was reading a Times article where it crosses their mind of ‘did he/she really say that?’, they can now cross reference articles with the livestreams to see if things match up. Livestreaming is a win/win on both sides who demand transparency and accountability.
The Times has certainly been critical of past councils when it comes to transparency with their quite liberal interpretation of the FOIPP (Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act) when it comes to the abundance of in-camera discussions involving some topics The Times has disagreed with as worthy of being away from the public eye. But, give credit where credit is due. Livestreaming open sessions of public meetings allows for a greater access to the public to its elected officials which is always a good thing in the practice of democracy.