Gannett sets webcast of Florida offshore drilling debate


Gannett Florida is co-hosting a debate on whether oil drilling should take place in Florida coastal waters – and will use all of its properties in the state to distribute the live debate. It will be streamed live on the websites of Gannett’s Florida newspapers and WTSP-TV (CBS) Tampa-St. Pete, while airing live on public television stations.

The “Florida Forum” is scheduled for 7-9 pm, October 28th, at Florida State University in Tallahassee, co-sponsored by FSU, Gannett Florida and Gannett’s Tallahassee Democrat. It will feature two panels of highly respected and credible experts, including three proponents and three opponents of the proposal.

Paul Flemming, Gannett Florida’s Capital News Editor, will serve as moderator of the event, ask questions of the experts and anchor the entire discussion. As the forum is open to the public, questions will also come from members of the in-studio audience and viewers watching the forum on the Internet or via telecast from off-site locations such as Florida State University’s satellite campuses.

Also on hand will be Florida legislators: Sen. Mike Haridopolos, president-designate of the Florida Senate; and Rep. Dean Cannon, speaker-designate of the Florida House of Representatives. The lawmakers will be there to listen to diverse perspectives and to ask questions about the effects of bringing energy exploration to Florida waters before the issue is expected to be considered by the Florida Legislature.

“Opening Florida’s waters to offshore drilling would be a significant change from longstanding state policy, and the public has many questions about this proposal,” said FSU President T.K. Wetherell.  “Hopefully, this forum can help provide critical facts and needed perspective to this ongoing debate,” he added.

The forum will be open to coverage by all Florida news media, and Florida State University will broadcast the event from the studios of WFSU public broadcasting as well as make the signal from the event available to its satellite campuses and other educational institutions across the state. Gannett Florida will broadcast the event on its Web sites in Florida: The Tallahassee Democrat; Pensacola News Journal; Florida Today; Ft. Myers News-Press; WTSP-TV Tampa; and First Coast News in Jacksonville.

Gannett Florida also will make the web cast signal available for use by all media on their own web sites – and is seeking a media outlet in Southeast Florida to actively participate in the event. Further details about the forum will be made available as the Oct. 28 event approaches.

“This forum will be an important opportunity to hear balanced facts and opposing opinions about the effects that would result from changing Florida’s longstanding ban on offshore drilling,” said Patrick Dorsey, president and publisher of the Tallahassee Democrat.

RBR-TVBR observation:
There seems to be no downside to such collaboration. Certainly Gannett’s newspapers and WTSP will find plenty of news generated by this hot topic and do their communities a great service in making the debate available. RBR-TVBR has some of its operations based in Florida, so we know that this is a huge issue in the Sunshine State.