I generally don’t encounter much free-flowing consensus when I’m wandering around the Roundhouse. But as I haunted the curving halls of the Capitol yesterday, I found one thing on which everyone agrees:
The new Senate webcasting sucks.
It seems no one – legislators, constituents, journalists – is happy with the single, fixed camera positioned in the back of the chamber that provides a stultifying view of the back of everyone’s heads.
The webcasting began Monday after a protracted battle in the Senate, waged mostly by legislators who apparently did not relish the thought of cameras recording them for posterity if they said something silly.
But proponents of webcasting, including an overwhelming section of the public, pushed for an officially-sanctioned, ever-present light on the sometimes impenetrable process of lawmaking.
In the end, webcasting friends (mostly rank and file Senators) and foes (mostly Senate leaders) compromised on a plan to install one stationary camera in the back of the Senate chamber. As one legislator reasoned, it was exactly the view anyone would get if he or she drove to Santa Fe and sat in the gallery – no more, no less.
It’s gone over like a lead balloon.
The New Mexico Independent’s Gwyneth Doland – who, in the absence of webcasting, has performed a public service by logging hours and hours of legislative webcasting and liveblogs for her site — posted this on Wednesday to register her continuing displeasure with the limited camera scope.
Let’s be clear – the frustrating footage is not the fault of the Legislative Council Services staff, who are working hard to improve the performance of the single camera it’s been tasked with operating.
No, the people I talked to place the blame squarely on the man who spearheaded the much-maligned compromise plan – Sen. John Sapien (D-Corrales).