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Think Out Loud

Town Hall 2.0

Pete Springer/OPB

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?


(Editor’s note: The advertised salary was up to $70,000.)

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