The eight-member editorial board of the Naples Daily News meets frequently with community leaders interested in gaining editorial support on our opinion pages for a specific program or project.
And, the board always invites candidates for public office to drop by and explain why they are running and why voters should elect them. Our election endorsements follow.
In all of these meetings, there’s one standing rule: Everything is on the record.
We ask guests not to tell us anything they wouldn’t one day mind seeing printed in the newspaper or posted on our Web site. There can be no shared secrets if we truly want to serve the community, so we’ve long conducted our meetings as if they were being held in public for all to see.
This past week, that vision was realized.
Our editorial board session with three leaders of Project Home Run, the group hoping to bring the Chicago Cubs to Collier County for spring training, was streamed live on the World Wide Web.
Anyone with a computer could have watched the hour-long conversation on what the Cubs’ move from Arizona to the Naples area would mean for the local economy and our quality of life.
Our questions about who would pay for a stadium and which sites were being considered were answered in real time.
Those interested could watch it all as it happened — no filters.
We truly let the sun shine in on this one.
We weren’t sure how many computer users would tune in for the live stream, but we knew there would be interest from Chicago, the epicenter of Cubs Nation, and Mesa, Ariz., the Cubs’ current spring-training host.
We also knew there would be local interest in what the three Project Home Run representatives had to say.
There certainly was local media interest. NBC-2, which partners with the Daily News on news coverage, provided a link to our live stream on its Web site and covered the open session as a news event.
WINK-TV in Fort Myers asked if a reporter and videographer could attend the editorial board session. (We said yes.)
When the session concluded and the Project Home Run contingent was leaving the Daily News offices, a reporter and photographer for The News-Press in Fort Myers were waiting outside to interview them. (We would have invited them in if we had known.)
We never imagined that making our editorial board meetings public would also — at least in this case — make them a news event.
This first live stream of an editorial board meeting was watched on computer screens by 751 — not a startling number considering our entire Web site gets upward of 6 million page views a month.
But, the experiment allowed us to provide information to 751 more people — some from Mesa, Ariz., — than we would have reached otherwise with no extra effort by the editorial board.
We did expend a few newsroom resources — staff members skilled in video, audio and other disciplines — to prepare for the live stream and to pull it off, but that will change as we gain experience.
Our goal is to make it turnkey, so future editorial board sessions can be viewed on the Web with little more than a flip of a switch on our part.
We’ve long stated that everything should be considered on the record during editorial board sessions. We wanted to be free to share everything said with the public.
We’re almost there.
Phil Lewis is editor of the Daily News. His e-mail address is email@example.com.