In May, Multnomah Country Chair Ted Wheeler sought to hire a social media coordinator to, among other things, update his Facebook and Twitter pages for a $70,000* a year salary. Wheeler faced backlash for the posting and decided to put his search on hold. In Wheeler’s words:
Local governments, in particular, can capitalize on the amazing opportunity that web-based technologies, including social networking (SN), provide. These tools are quickly reshaping the way we communicate and interact, and government would be smart to adapt.
Some government agencies are beginning to adapt. Oregon school districts are now turning to Facebook and Twitter to better reach busy families. The Portland Water Bureau’s Facebook page has become a destination to discuss water issues. And the Eugene Public Library’s Twitter feed offers plenty of information about local events.
Does this lead to more community participation? Or does it block some people out of an otherwise open conversation? Is the town hall meeting now moving online? How do you use social networking sites to communicate with your local officials or agencies?
- Ted Wheeler: Multnomah County Chair
- Kelli Matthews: Instructor at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication
- Karen Pugsley: Princpal of the Green School at Newberg High
- Jennie Day-Burget: Public Information Officer, Portland Water Bureau
(Editor’s note: The advertised salary was up to $70,000.)