You Asked: Why Haven't School Committee Rebroadcasts Aired Recently?

We posed your question to Tom Reid, Swampscott High's TV production and media literacy teacher.


Welcome to You Asked, Patch Answers, a regular feature at Swampscott Patch.

Earlier this week we got a question from Citizen Swamp, a regular Patch commenter.

Citizen asked us to inquire why local access rebroadcasts of School Committee meetings haven't been running.

We forwarded the question to the high school's television production and media literacy teacher, Thomas Reid.

Here is Thomas's reply:

Thank you for asking.  We get a schedule from the Superintendent's Office every couple of months of all the upcoming school committee meetings.  We tape any meeting on the schedule and show them on our educational channel (Channel 15 on Comcast in Swampscott only and Channel 40 on Verizon in Swampscott, Lynn and Nahant).  The time between recording and getting them on the air (during which students edit the footage, burn the DVD, ingest it into our on-air server and schedule it), is usually between two and five days, occasionally a bit sooner for short meetings and a bit longer for long ones.  Once we get the meeting on the air, we broadcast it for at least a week, usually at 9 am, 3 pm and 9 pm each day.  We are currently finishing editing the February 27th meeting, which was more complex technically than most, but it should be ready and on the air by this Friday.
Since neither equipment nor human beings are perfect, we have missed one or two meetings over the years, but very few.   This year, the only meeting we haven't recorded was the one held during the recent February vacation, which was not on the schedule we had been sent, having been scheduled only a few days before it happened.   This may be the missing meeting your reader was referring to, in which case I share his or her disappointment that we didn't get it recorded.    We are usually informed of any changes or additions to the schedule in time to make arrangements, but in this case, I went on vacation without knowing about the meeting and just wasn't told about it.    I understand that there was a last-minute attempt to contact the student directly a few hours before the meeting, but it wasn't successful.  
Anyone is welcome to email me to know more specifically when any meeting (or any of my students' videos of other school events) will be broadcast.   At times, I've thought about posting our schedule in advance on the Patch, but my hesitation is that I often can't predict exactly when students will finish editing videos and have them ready for air, so sometimes I make last minute changes.  But we did install software on our system that generates an automatic and always accurate schedule of what's coming up for the next two days, which displays in rotation on our channel's message board in between the videos we cablecast.

To give an example of our programming, we are currently showing an episode of 'Today in Swampscott' (multiple times, in the morning, mid-day and evening) in which Junior Kelsey Lombard interviews five SHS Arts teachers about their course offerings to provide parents and students with information as they choose arts electives for next fall.   We're also broadcasting 'Dancing with the Staff,' our video of an SHS faculty-student dance contest, which we're playing mostly at night.  I would give the exact times, but these two videos will have to be moved around to alternate with the most recent school committee meeting in its 9 am, 3 pm and 9 pm slots as soon as we put it on the air.  We're not currently showing any videos of elementary school events, but we frequently do, and, when we do, we primarily show them between 5 pm and 8 pm so they're on the air while elementary school children are awake and can watch with their families.

Thank you,
Tom Reid

Teacher of TV Production and Media Literacy

Swampscott High School

200 Essex StreetSwampscott, MA 01907


Citizen Swamp March 07, 2013 at 09:11 PM
Thanks Terry & Mr. Reid! CS
Mary DeChillo March 19, 2013 at 04:12 PM
The Board of Selectman meetings are broadcast live. Why aren't the School Committee meetings broadcast live as well? When the SC meetings were held in the former high school, there was no capacity to broadcast live. However the intent in building and equipping the studio at the new high school was to insure the capacity to broadcast public meetings at the time they are occurring, not to tape the for later broadcast. There are many "good governance" reasons for a live broadcast, including giving people public information in a timely manner as decisions are being made by public officials. While I appreciate that the editing and preparation of the tapes is a learning experience for Mr. Reid's students, there are other projects (like the Dancing with Staff that he mentions) which can offer the same learning experience. A delay in editing school or cultural events does not compare to a delay in providing essential information that can have a huge impact on the making of public policy by the School Committee. Without being ability to watch how decisions are made, it is sometimes difficult to understand the nuances and dynamics of decision-making by any Board or Committee. It is not just the content of a discussion that is important, but the process a committee engages in (including interactions with the superintendent and the citizens who attend the meeting) that impacts a group decision All public meetings at the high school need to be broadcast when they occur.
Tom Reid March 27, 2013 at 05:38 PM
Mary - The reason School Committee meetings aren’t aired live isn’t that my students need editing practice. They have lots of videos to edit, many of which aren’t shown on our channel – personal/family projects, videos teachers need for classes, college application videos, Media Literacy projects, etc. So we actually prefer to go live when we can, rather than spend extra time editing. We can do this, as you suggest, because of the care that all of you who planned for the new school took to get teachers’ input (Kevin Breen worked particularly hard with me on the wiring diagrams). We go live most often, sometimes with multiple cameras, from the auditorium. But for the last few years, the SC has held their meetings not in the auditorium but upstairs in B208. Going live from B208 would involve technology that isn’t as secure as going live from the auditorium and an initial expense, albeit a relatively minor one. When I told this to the SC who made the switch to B208, they were fine with delayed broadcasts. But we would be happy to start airing meetings live, so upon reading your post, I contacted the current SC and suggested this. They were very open to the idea and said they would bring it up an upcoming meeting. NB (to anyone): Please feel free to contact me directly in the future for a quicker reply to any questions you might have. Yours truly, Tom Reid Teacher of TV Production & Media Literacy Swampscott H.S. reid@swampscott.k12.ma.us


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