Putting the ‘public’ back into public-access TV
WINSTED — Charter Community Television, which runs cable Channels 13 and 15 in Winsted, has announced it is looking for volunteers to record local government meetings at Town Hall and other locations.Public Access Coordinator Dave Whitney said recently that, while Charter staff members have previously volunteered to cover meetings, public-access television is designed to encourage members of public to produce content in the form of general-interest and entertainment programming on public-access Channel 13 and municipal meetings on government-access 15.“It’s easier than ever to get involved,” Whitney said. “Nowadays, everyone is their own journalist. You can hook up a computer to a camera and edit yourself if you want.”For community members who have grown accustomed to seeing Board of Selectmen and Board of Education meetings on Channel 15, Whitney said, the responsibility will fall on community members to set up a camera at Winchester Town Hall for those meetings. Whitney noted that Town Hall is the only location in Winsted that offers a live-feed cable hookup, so meetings can be shown live. Meetings at other locations must be recorded and delivered to Charter Community Television’s studios at 140 Willow St.For general-interest programming, Whitney said, Charter is always open to new ideas. “People can bring in videos of sports, meetings or any raw footage. Anything that’s edited can be shown on Channel 13 at some point,” he said.At the July 18 Board of Selectmen’s meeting, Whitney notified the Board of Selectmen and viewers that it would be the last time he would cover a meeting at Town Hall and that it was the community’s responsibility to take advantage of its community-access stations. On Monday, Aug. 1, community member Doug Smith volunteered to record the Board of Selectmen’s meeting. Smith is the wrestling coach at The Gilbert School and the husband of Selectman Lisa Smith.Whitney acknowledged that it has been difficult to find volunteers to record meetings, particularly because staff at Charter Community Television used to volunteer to provide coverage. He said using Charter staff to do a job the public should be doing is not an efficient use of resources.Whitney noted that it is particularly easy for community members to volunteer at Town Hall, because camera equipment for live broadcasts is already located there. Setup requires a few steps and volunteers need to pack the equipment away when meetings are completed. “You don’t have to be the best camera person in the world,” Whitney said.Whitney said he would especially like to see young people get involved with community-access television, whether it is in the form of recording government meetings or creating new shows. “It’s a beautiful thing to see young people involved,” he said. “I am totally supportive of getting the community involved and showing them how to set up the cameras.”Anyone interested in learning more about community television programming should call Whitney at 860-738-5090, ext. 1. Charter Community Television can be found online on Facebook, and an archive of local shows can be found at www.ctv13.net.