I read this Quad City Times editorial on the City of Davenports latest move to start it own web based news bureau. It sums things up perfectly and I thought it deserved to be on our web page.
To set up the editorial...Davenport is spending $178,000 to set up it's own news service to create a more positive buzz about the city. Here...let me tell you what you can do to improve your image and save yourself $178,000. Don't do so many stupid things!
The editorial outlines a number of questionable actions City Administrator Craig Malin and Mayor Gluba have undertaken in the past few years. In the news/talk business, when we find a local individual or business that constantly provides fodder for conversation...we call it job security! To the City of Davenport, all I can say is Thank You!
Quad city Times Editorial:
After attempts to run the Davenport School Board, then buy a private casino, Davenport City Administrator Craig Malin appears to have had better luck leading taxpayers into another business.
He won aldermen’s backing to spend $178,000 a year to create a government-run news bureau. That’s some moxie in a community with two daily newspapers, at least four strong weeklies, three network-affiliated TV news operations, two public radio stations, a public television station and good ol’ WOC-AM.
Clearly, Davenport doesn’t have any expectation to compete with our 150-year-old news business by hiring two-part-timers, buying weather reports from Terry Swails and contracting with a couple more freelancers. The proposal outlined in a PowerPoint presentation prepared at Malin’s direction describes a public relations plan intended in the city’s words to: “Create positive buzz,” and “manage message on potential controversies” and “change the culture!”
That culture-changing exclamation point is Malin’s, too, reflecting his long-held disdain for public criticism. He’s yearned for public discourse free of criticism, naysaying and doubt. Of course, he’ll find none of this here, or in any vibrant community worth living in. Davenporters love their city, especially when it fills their potholes, shovels their streets, maintains their parks and responds to their emergency calls. Beyond that, consensus can be hard to come by. So he’s ginning up an overpriced news bureau that essentially will ramp up the press release and web outreach for which the city already pays communications chief Jennifer Nahra $83,079 and Chief Information Officer Rob Henry $129,966 annually.
"As far as we can tell, no U.S. city has embarked on this effort,” said Tory Brecht, one of the part-timers hired for the city’s news bureau. Um, there’s a reason for that. Malin rankled Davenport school district leaders and staff when he led aldermen to pursue a $25 million federal education grant without school board leadership. He was chief cheerleader with Mayor Bill Gluba to leverage taxpayer money to buy a casino. Now he’s got a news business. We know the news business. This $185,000 plan doesn’t come anywhere close. All aldermen approved is a hyper-PR campaign, which a private agency would have done much better at less cost.
How will aldermen know if their $185,000 a year PR effort is working? This money came with zero criteria, no specific outcomes and without much discussion of the process. We don’t sweat the competition. We’re just sorry to see the city squander the equivalent of three police officer salaries on an overpriced public relations scheme.