Letter: Last week's news report was wrong

Posted 11/19/19

To the editor:

There was a small, terrifically ironic, news item in last week’s paper. It recounted 2.5 minutes of discussion at the Town Council’s November 4 meeting where Mike …

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Letter: Last week's news report was wrong

Posted

To the editor:

There was a small, terrifically ironic, news item in last week’s paper. It recounted 2.5 minutes of discussion at the Town Council’s November 4 meeting where Mike Carroll mentioned that the Town Clerk may, based upon a discussion at a recent seminar, reduce the detail of meeting minutes by indicating generally that discussion occurred with respect to the subjects we address. It was explained that videos of Town Council meetings are readily available online (within days of a meeting, so if anyone is truly inclined you won’t have to wait for months and binge watch Council meetings), and that the videos are far more accurate than a few page summary of a four hour meeting. This discussion was part of the Council’s 12 minute (!) discussion to make adjustments or corrections, from memory, to meeting notes that were one and two months old. Estimating that there were about fifty residents in the room, about thirty of whom were waiting for the Council to address their important business, this exercise consumed about ten hours of collective lifetime—for which I am heartily sorry.

A few page summary of a four hour meeting is inherently inaccurate because of the medium, and correcting it from memory while people wait to talk to their Town Council probably makes it more so. The written summary necessarily omits 80-90% of what was said, and it gives the incorrect impression that the few comments reduced to writing were the only comments made. Without the extraordinary expense of a stenographer, briefly recapping much more about a four hour meeting than the order of business and the votes taken is to guarantee inaccuracy. And inaccuracy is the opposite of transparency.

As if prove the point, last week’s news report indicated that “Despite [a resident’s] objection, the council voted in favor of the change [to record minutes more succinctly]”. The Council took no such vote, a point the Town Clerk would get right every time. The other ten minutes of the discussion were thankfully not reported (but it’s out on video).

Steve Boyajian

Barrington

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Mike Rego has worked at East Bay Newspapers since 2001, helping the company launch The Westport Shorelines. He soon after became a Sports Editor, spending the next 10-plus years in that role before taking over as editor of The East Providence Post in February of 2012. To contact Mike about The Post or to submit information, suggest story ideas or photo opportunities, etc. in East Providence, email mrego@eastbaymediagroup.com.