You are on camera

Remember to present your best self when being recorded at a public meeting.

A recent question was sent to Michigan State University Extension Educators regarding videography at a public meeting where the attendees are not members of the press, but are posting their recordings on social media. The writer asked, “What are the guidelines for any citizen being able to video a public meeting in Michigan?”  Many municipalities do offer simultaneous live broadcast or recorded replay of public meetings so that those who cannot attend can actively participate in government.

This document helps to provide clarity around Open Meetings in Michigan.  It outlines clearly the details of recording meetings as described in 15.263 Meetings, decisions, and deliberations of public body; requirements; attending or addressing meeting of public body; tape-recording, videotaping, broadcasting, and telecasting proceedings; rules; exclusion from meeting; exemptions:

“Sec. 3. (1) All meetings of a public body shall be open to the public and shall be held in a place available to the general public. All persons shall be permitted to attend any meeting except as otherwise provided in this act. The right of a person to attend a meeting of a public body includes the right to tape-record, to videotape, to broadcast live on radio and to telecast live on television the proceedings of a public body at a public meeting. The exercise of this right shall not be dependent upon the prior approval of the public body. However, a public body may establish reasonable rules and regulations in order to minimize the possibility of disrupting the meeting.”

Clearly, with the number of recording technologies at many fingertips, “public officials should be aware of their mannerisms, gestures, and facial expressions periodically watching the proceedings to see if there is anything that appears offensive. Members that lean back and rock in their chairs, appear to have their eyes closed while others are speaking, yawn or scratch inappropriately all reflect negatively on camera” (National Association of Parliamentarians, Parliamentary Procedure in Local Government Second Edition, 2012 P. 66).  The best advice is to remember to take the time to appear professional in the way you are presenting yourself if you find yourself in front of a video recording device.

Michigan State University Extension Educators can provide your organization with assistance in learning more about parliamentary procedure.  The Government and Public Policy team also offers training for elected and appointed officials for improved effectiveness in several areas, including various public policy issues and effects of government programs, regulation, incentives, strategies and more. By working together with local elected and appointed officials, and interested citizens, MSU Extension is able to provide education on critical local and state issues. To contact an expert in your area, visit MSU Extension’s expert search system or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464). 

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