I was distressed to read that Plymouth Select Board member Kevin Canty recently threatened a Plymouth Independent reporter, suggesting he was committing a felony by recording the board’s public meeting without providing advance notice. In my 40 years as a journalist for the Associated Press and local newspapers on both coasts, I have recorded and seen other reporters routinely record countless local, state and federal public meetings. They rarely notified anyone in advance unless the recording posed logistical issues in the room.

Canty is correct that Massachusetts Open Meeting Law does require prior notification, but without mention of punishment. It’s the equivalent of jaywalking at worst — a law that is widely ignored for good reason. The idea that a Massachusetts court might convict a reporter of a felony for such a misstep under Canty’s ridiculous invocation of wiretapping law is laughable. I am disappointed in this public official, whom I have otherwise admired.

– Jeff Donn

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