Editorials

Live streams of meetings should bring better government

Pascagoula is one of the latest cities on the Coast to start streaming its City Council meetings.
Pascagoula is one of the latest cities on the Coast to start streaming its City Council meetings. klnelson@sunherald.com File

The new mayors of Ocean Springs, Pascagoula and Moss Point are streaming their city council meetings. That’s a trend we hope continues to grow.

“Civic engagement is ever-changing in the digital age,” Pascagoula Mayor Dane Maxwell wrote to announce meetings will be streamed via Facebook Live. “We, as elected leaders, must do all we can to bring the business of the people closer to them so that they stay engaged and active as we implement the change Pascagoula so desperately needs.”

Amen.

Just a few years ago, the only way to see your government in action was to head down to City Hall and grab a seat. Still, many city council meetings attracted good crowds. So we know the interest is there.

Now, in several Coast cities, people can watch the proceedings from the comfort of their homes. In many instances, an archive of council meetings is available, a valuable tool for those who are unable to watch it live. It’s a good way to fact check what people are saying about government.

It’s an openness that should lead to better government. We’d like to see this adopted by all boards and commissions. They are doing the people’s business and they should welcome the civic participation.

The internet is often justly vilified for all the bad behavior that it tends to amplify. Here, though, is one of its most redeeming qualities.

We encourage all public officials to take advantage of its power to facilitate conversations with the people they serve. One advantage Facebook Live gives viewers is the ability to comment on the proceedings in real time.

Many governments are posting agendas and documents that help explain the agenda items before the meetings. That is something we hope catches on everywhere.

One caveat. The live stream process isn’t foolproof. It doesn’t always work as planned, so a little patience is in order. There will be glitches along the way, but it is bound to improve with time and experience.

Again, we commend the officials who are taking advantage of technology to make government more efficient and responsive.

The editorial represents the views of the Sun Herald editorial board. Opinions of columnists and cartoonists are their own.

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