Notes from Newcastle: Video killed the radio star

November 7, 2014

By Christina Corrales-Toy

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Since Newcastle News comes out only once a month, I split my duties between this paper and The Issaquah Press, a weekly.

I work on community features and Liberty High School sports for The Press, but I usually stay away from the more newsy Issaquah items, saving those for the main Issaquah Press reporter.

Well, we bid a sad farewell last month to Peter Clark, our Issaquah city reporter who moved on to greener pastures. In his absence, and while we searched for his replacement, I picked up the slack a bit.

That meant, for much of October, I shuttled back and forth between Issaquah and Newcastle city council meetings. It’s the first time I’ve ever really attended a council meeting other than Newcastle’s, so it was interesting to compare and contrast the two.

First, Issaquah is much bigger than Newcastle, with a population about three times as large and a land reach that requires a larger number of staff members. The city’s structure is also a bit different, operating under a specialized mayor-council form of government.

In that capacity, Issaquah Mayor Fred Butler serves as the city’s chief administrative officer, while the elected seven-member council serves as Issaquah’s legislative body.

For Newcastle, it’s City Manager Rob Wyman who supervises the city’s administrative affairs, acting as the “chief executive officer of the municipal corporation,” according to the city’s website.

Butler, like the council, is elected by the voters, but unlike in Newcastle, he is elected into the specific mayoral seat. Newcastle residents simply vote for council members, and then the council decides among themselves who will serve as mayor for a two-year term.

It all leads to an interesting dynamic in the public council meetings. Issaquah City Administrator Bob Harrison’s role is not nearly as pronounced as Wyman’s, but on the other hand, Butler’s scope of mayoral duties is more significant than Newcastle Mayor Steve Buri’s.

As for more insignificant differences, the audience chairs in Issaquah are more comfortable (to the delight of this reporter), but Newcastle’s council chambers feel, on the whole, roomier and better equipped to handle more attendees.

One marked difference in Issaquah’s council chambers is the presence of cameras. While sitting down in a meeting for the first time, it can be a bit jarring to see — what I’m assuming are — remote-controlled cameras panning left or right to capture a particular speaker.

It turns out though, that those cameras, and the resulting council video made available to residents and reporters alike, are amazing.

When I wanted to review a particular part of the meeting, I had only to visit YouTube, where there on the city of Issaquah’s page is full video of the proceedings. It was easy to skip ahead and identify particular speakers I wanted to hear from.

Newcastle posts audio recordings of their meetings, which I use often to review certain parts, but it’s a lot more difficult to find exactly which part I need.

In this digital age, I imagine residents would more readily watch council meetings on video, where they can see the faces of the men and women they elected, than listen to a two- to three-hour audio recording.

I would love it if, one day, Newcastle administrators find room in the budget for a video recording system to post council meetings, because, as The Buggles taught us, “Video Killed the Radio Star.”

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One Response to “Notes from Newcastle: Video killed the radio star”

  1. Daniel Baker on November 24th, 2014 6:22 pm

    Video versus audio of proceedings.

    I would definitely second the observation, although there is cost to doing the video.

    In various things I attend and want to recapture, I break out my device and record audio. However, finding the audio period of particular interest to listen to is – awkward. Yes, video would make it easier to find the particular thing, a little like “bookmarks”. Usually wouldn’t be possible for me due to environment, but…

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