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The second-day story, with your help. Call Gazette reporter Adam Belz at (319) 398-8273 or e-mail him: adam.belz@gazcomm.com

Get on the train, folks

Yesterday was a slow day on County Supervision (i.e., no new content), because I had to fill in on the night cops beat and babysit the police scanner all night. But at least two things worth mentioning happened, and they both fit in nicely with the point I will now try to make.

First, District 4 Supervisor Brent Oleson blogged about Wednesday morning’s supervisors meeting. He thinks the taxpayer will get slammed if all the county’s legislative wishes are granted, and you can read his take on the meeting here. I will try to get the minutes posted today.

Second, KCRG-TV9’s Claire Kellett did a Wednesday story explaining Twitter to the good people of Eastern Iowa. Twitter is a website where anyone can publish what he or she is doing, moment by moment, for anyone to see. It’s a cross between a blog and a Facebook status update. It really is a useful way to stay on top of what’s going on. Kellett interviewed District 3 Supervisor Ben Rogers, who said “I’m going to use it to broadcast meetings I am going to, and discussions that were had that deal with county business, because I really like to get the feedback.”

Here at County Supervision, we’ve been following Twitter for a few months, and we’ve got Twitter feeds posted on the right hand column of this blog not only for Rogers, but also for Oleson and Linn County Auditor Joel Miller, who’s been on Twitter for longer than anyone in county government (Is he still in Germany, or what?).

Here’s the point of all this: If you care about Linn County government, and you have something to say, you should get involved in the online discussion.

I’ve been quietly lobbying several people to start blogs, and my success has been comparable to that of a human head forcefully confronting a brick wall. But I will persist. Blogs and Twitter are simple, free ways to articulate viewpoints and communicate with large numbers of people. If you are an elected official, they are tools to help you communicate with constituents and be transparent — about discussions and decisions. WordPress and Blogger are good, simple places to start a blog. Twitter is even easier.

There’s no reason Oleson should be the only supervisor blogging, that Rogers, Oleson and Miller should be the only elected officials tweeting, or that I should be the only private citizen writing about county government. Get on the train. And contact me any time to discuss this. I’m at adam.belz@gazcomm.com or (319) 398-8273.

More news coming later today.

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2 Responses

  1. Beth Malicki says:

    Hi Adam,
    I’ve been following Linn county officials (Miller, Oleson and Rogers) plus Sen. Chuck Grassley, my company’s CEO (Chuck Peters) and other notables around the community and a few strangers, friends from college, etc.

    I only “found” Twitter about amonth ago and it is a GOLD MINE of story ideas, information about what my elected leaders are up to combined with a dose of fun. As a journalist, news addict, mom, wife and citizen, I can use it to further my knowledge base on a wide variety of topics I don’t usually get exposure to in another way.

    But like Claire Kellett found when doing the stoy for last night’s 10 p.m. newsast, those who don’t Twitter, mock it. Pardon the cliche, but “Don’t knock it till you try it.”

    Beth Malicki
    KCRG-TV 9 News

  2. adambelz says:

    Thanks for your thoughts, Beth. I was a skeptic at first, but I see the value now. I think the challenge for some journalists is to use the tool to communicate useful information. Too often on Twitter people bring up the latest insider journalist idea or talk about how tired they are. Not worthwhile.

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