Musings About Staged Media Events

As the Gazette editor was looking for interesting photo ops at the recent “NH Executive Council comes to Mason” event we became torn.

Do we attend a meeting where the podium members speak but is advertised as no public comment?

Do we buy into putting Mason in spotlight of supporting zero carbon groups by including photos of banners that have more to do with that than protecting the “pristine” Mason environment? Although, right at the moment, “eminent domain” has bubbled to the surface as a more viable issue.*

Do we point out that the folks with the representation of a 30″ pipe were actually standing on town drainage of comparable size? Or maybe we should have suggested they go to Mason Elementary’s leach field drainage; now there’s a pipe we don’t like to question what goes down it and flows into the local swamp.

But the real killer was that in the interests of photo op staging, and our own particular focus on the new community sign, we asked two of our local curmudgeons (not those pictured in the link) to stand next to it (for scale if nothing else).

Last Tuesday, the sign said “Monday [sic] Picture Day”, 24 hours later it said “Welcome Governor Hassan and Council”.

One curmudgeon seemed to have stage fright or at least was leary to what use we might put such a photo.

The other did not wish be be associated with anything that appeared to support the governor (who is apparently also running for the U.S. senate next election).

We’re slow, but the latter refusal got us thinking.

No advance mention of the governor’s visit to the school on the school’s web site, and the words had not been up long enough to be considered a “notice”. So maybe the message on the sign was just a polite civic gesture?

Why did the governor get first billing when it was really Counselor Wheeler who was responsible for moving the event to Mason? Does that make the sign political speech?

The day before, we were downtown taking photos of “another political sign” that had recently been put up by a tax exempt organization. We did so at the behest of one of the Mason School Board members who was quite incensed; yet an organization in which he shares governing might be doing the same thing.

School board policies clearly indicate “no favorites” when it comes to campaigns. Do all sign postings have to go through the board for approval, are there guidelines for use of the sign, has that policy been violated in the very first few days of existence of the school’s sign?

So many questions, so few answers. But perhaps answers just depend on which side of the fence one sits; and there are no clear answers.



Union Leader Coverage of the event, including nicer photo of the Grim Reaper, here. Mr. Wheeler’s comments got little billing there.

Story updated to include a Ledger-Transcript photo of Mason Elementary students (probably all of them) and Selectman Moser standing traffic guard (far right).

We thought about also snarfing the photo of two of the Mason selectmen enjoying a pancake breakfast at Parker’s, but don’t really want to touch that topic. Nor did we clone the photo of sleeping people at the council meeting.

*Eminent domain would appear to have a hard time in N.H. ever since Governor Lynch approved a law restricting its use (see here). But perhaps the law has been repealed or Federal Law preempts it.

2 comments for “Musings About Staged Media Events

  1. Bazil
    October 22, 2015 at 19:48

    Sadly federal regulation preempts the NH Constitution. So even if the NH Constitution forbids it the feds can do it anyway.

  2. Wentworth
    October 23, 2015 at 12:17

    Reader tip of more coverage of the event at NPR. Warning it’s about underlying politics, little to do with Mason, other than it happened here.

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