It’s not must-see TV, but still worthy

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 3, 2007

There’s a new television show around, and ? especially if you live in Isle of Wight ? you might do well to catch it. Isle of Wight’s Board of Supervisors will star in the new show, and its twice-monthly agendas will provide the plot, if not the script.

When last week’s county board meeting hits the airwaves soon, Isle of Wight will join many of its metropolitan counterparts in Hampton Roads in giving its citizens a chance to catch the actions of county government live (on tape) from the comfort of their own homes. Residents might want to prepare themselves for the excitement by catching up on their sleep ahead of time, so they don’t doze off during a crucial point of discussion.

Seriously, though, the fact that supervisors are so interested in getting word of their activities out to the public that they’d start televising meetings and other information, as well as sending out a quarterly newsletter, says a lot about the direction the county is moving.

Cynics might argue that controlling the medium allows supervisors to control the message, and spin is certainly a danger inherent to any organization’s public relations plan. Isle of Wight’s government, however, operates in one of Hampton Roads’ most competitive media markets, with several television and radio stations, as well as two daily newspapers and two non-dailies, battling each other to be the dominant source of information.

In such a market, it is unlikely that an important, controversial story can be spun by the county to the extent that all the media are duped.

Indeed, an argument can be made that televising board meetings gives viewers an unfiltered view of what goes on in county government.

Such a perspective, while occasionally boring, is almost always enlightening.