WJHL News Channel 11 has an update on the ban of TV cameras from Greene County school board meetings.
Last week, the school board chairman turned away a TV reporter’s video camera, with the schools director later saying it was long established policy to ban TV cameras from its meetings and it helped prevent a “sound-bite view” of proceedings.
But the underlying policy is becoming a controversy.
As written, it says school board members can decide whether to permit cameras or not. Two school board members now tell WJHL that there was never a vote to keep TV media cameras out.
Also, Office of Open Records Counsel Elisha Hodge told WJHL that there are only two reasons a TV camera can be kept out of a public meeting: for safety reasons or if it interferes with the board’s ability to conduct orderly meetings. She cited an Attorney General’s opinion.
The Tennessee School Board Association stands by the policy, which it recommends to all school board across the state, noting that an Attorney General opinion on the issue is “just an opinion. It’s not authoritative. It’s simply persuasive guidance.”
You can read the Attorney General’s opinion here.
-By Deborah Fisher, executive director of Tennessee Coalition for Open Government, an alliance of media, citizens and good government groups that conducts education, research and communication about the state’s open government laws.