A new Pew Research Center poll confirms the inexorable shift toward Americans receiving an ever-increasing share of their news from the Internet.
41% of Americans look primarily to the Internet for national and international news: a 17% increase from 2008.
The number of Americans under 30 citing the Internet as their primary news source has nearly doubled in the last three years, from 34% to 65%.
While Americans in the pre-retirement bracket still primarily rely on television for their news, fully 34% say the Internet is the main news source.
The Pew Research Center survey offers a number of interesting insights, but the bottom line is the nature of communications technology means the increasing migration to the Internet for news is unstoppable; anyone needing to communicate with the public has to adapt their methods accordingly.
This is especially true for local government agencies, as it becomes more difficult to communicate important news and information to the public in this era of shrinking newspaper readership (when even local TV news programming reaches far fewer people than in the past). It is critical for local agencies to develop and deploy their own news and public information infrastructure in order to meet the challenges of the modern media age.
Pacific Strategies is helping local agencies do exactly that. If you are interested in a consultation about how we can assist your agency in assessing and modernizing its public information strategy, and reaping the benefits of doing so, please contact us at 714.504.4106 or email@example.com.
An article in today’s Los Angeles Times examines the challenges facing California local governments as they attempt to integrate social media into their public information efforts:
Fearing liability from posted comments, Redondo Beach put the city’s Facebook page on hold in August. Yolo County in Northern California adopted a social media policy in April, and San Francisco abandoned its effort to archive posts on its Facebook page.
“Everybody sees the benefit and there’s an early rush and then you begin seeing the problems that come up,” said Redondo Beach City Atty. Michael Webb. “Law by its very nature progresses much slower than technology … we need to let the law catch up with the technology.”
In a National Assn. of Counties survey of member counties, 41% said they used Twitter and 36% said they had a Facebook page. Yet almost 80% said they had no social media policies. But that may be changing.
Public records law and other factors necessarily make using social media somewhat more complicated for public agencies, but it is worth the investment. Pacific Strategies puts its extensive social media experience to work assisting local agencies in crafting social media policies and development public communications strategies that make the best use of social media. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how we can help you successfully utilize social media.
This is from the California Special Districts Association e-newsletter:
CSDA has been made aware by a number of member districts that some media outlets are now submitting Public Records Act requests for information regarding base salaries, benefits, board member compensation, loans, “perks” provided and other items. We felt it was important to advise our members so that you can begin preparing the information internally should you receive such requests.
Further, some districts have already taken the extra step in transparency to post information online, such as salary ranges for positions, benefits offered and contracts. These districts are proactively demonstrating their openness to providing information to the public, media and others that may be interested.
Proactive transparency by local governments is an example of good policy that is also smart public relations. The ongoing scandal enveloping the City of Bell has deepened citizens’ cynicism toward government. The best way to show Bell is an anomaly rather than representative is for local governments to serve as their own watchdogs and embrace maximum transparency and interaction with residents.
Media coverage of local government is increasingly characterized by what I call “public records act journalism”: reporters submit wide-ranging PRAs to local agencies, then sift through the document trove in search of stories. Rather than wait their turn on the media chopping block and hope for the best, more local governments should emulate those cities and special districts that are prominently, proactively publishing the salary and compensation information on their websites. After all, it is public information that the public has a right to know, and putting it out voluntarily helps defuse public cynicism and suspicion — and decreases the likelihood of a city or special district becoming a media target.
Veteran public affairs consultancy Pacific Strategies applies its strategic communications experience and emerging media expertise to help local governments develop and implement communications programs to enhance transparency and positive, interactive communications with constituents.