Debate decorum: Barring media in Manchester
Last week’s Manchester mayoral debate was sponsored by the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce and held at the N.H. Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College. It was the chamber’s debate, and officials there decided not to allow the media to record the event or broadcast it live, as was done in 2011. That was a disservice to the people of the city.
The chamber allowed only the city government, through its public access TV channel, to record the debate. When local talk radio host Rich Girard tried to broadcast the debate, chamber marketing director Gemma Waite French told him no because it would be “disruptive to our program.”
But many events at the IOP are recorded, sometimes by network TV crews. Chamber President Robin Comstock wrote in an email to Girard (posted on his website) that his broadcast of the 2011 mayoral debate prompted the change. She said audience members found the background noise he generated “agitating.”
A better response from the chamber would have been to work with Girard to eliminate the disruption, not to bar media broadcasts.