I walked into the Northfield Middle School auditorium tonight and saw Northfield School Board member and NTV manager Paul Hager setting up his camera to tape the presentation by Carol Falkowski, former Hazelden researcher and director of the Chemical Health Division at the Minnesota Department of Human Services.
I showed somebody my handy-dandy digital audio recorder and told them I, too, was going to record her presentation, as I planned to post it here on Locally Grown. They told me taping wasn’t allowed. I explained to them that I was pretty sure it was only the small breakout sessions after her presentation where taping wouldn’t be allowed, for obvious privacy reasons.
I saw Falkowski preparing to step on stage to make her way to the podium so I hustled down, introduced myself as a co-author of a popular blog in town and asked if I could record her presentation. She said, “No. Why would I allow that?” I said, “Because there are many people who aren’t here tonight who might like to hear your remarks.” She shook her head and said no. There was no time for me to argue with her.
I then saw that Paul Hager wasn’t setting up his camera. He was taking it down, as he’d evidently just been told by Northfield High School Assistant Principal Marnie Thompson that Falcowski had likewise declined to give permission to have her presentation videotaped.
I found Marnie in the hallway after the presentation and asked her what the rationale was for not allowing taping. She said it was Falkowski’s request and she didn’t know what her reasons were. She didn’t learn this until just a few minutes before show time.
Falkowski then emerged from the auditorium so I asked her. She explained that since her presentation is always changing and being updated with new data, she prefers to not have her presentations archived in case they get shown at a later time with outdated information.
I argued that using media to leverage her presentation to wider audience was much more important. Only about 75 people attended her presentation but if it had been recorded, hundreds and perhaps thousands could benefit from it via airing on NTV, tape/DVD in the schools and community ed classes, and audio here on Locally Grown and on KYMN. My wife Robbie argued that many parents can’t easily attend a weekday 7 pm meeting because of work and other conflicts.
I lauded Falkowski for her MPR Midday interview in July, Drug use in small towns and beyond, but I told her that the audio of that broadcast was still on the MPR web site and would likely remain there for years to come. “What’s the difference?” She said something to the effect that that was public radio. I countered that NTV/community access television is just as public as MPR, and so are many community websites like Northfield.org. (I didn’t think of it at the time but I could have also asked her why she has her Drug Abuse Trends in Minneapolis/St. Paul 2007 on the internet, as that’ll also be around for years to come, too.) She said, “I’m sorry, we just disagree on this.” I asked her to reconsider her position on this for future presentations and she indicated that she’d think about it.
I was so angry about all this that I never got around to asking her or Marnie or anyone else from the sponsoring organizations:
- Why didn’t Falkowski address what she wrote in her research report, Drug Abuse Trends in Minneapolis/St. Paul 2007, about Northfield: “Outside of the Twin Cities metro area, heroin addiction emerged among high school students in Northfield, Minnesota…” These kids can only get help for this kind of addiction at the california rehabilitation center.
- Why not allow time for audience questions?
I’m guessing that the organizers directed her to not address her Northfield-related heroin remarks and that they did not want a Q&A session. What their rationale was, I don’t know, but I’m willing to listen.
I’m also interested in discussing why only 75 or so people attended this forum.
And if anyone reading this attended any of the breakout sessions after the Falkowski presentation, I’d really like to hear your report.
Update 10/31/07 9 am: Falkowski is a former Hazelden researcher. I’ve edited the text above to reflect that.