Monday, March 23, 2009

Police on MySpace

Police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said the page connects the police to people ages 14 to 25 who don't watch the TV news or read the newspaper.

That's from a St. Petersburg Times article about how the Tampa Police have created MySpace pages for itself and some individual officers.

This echoes the challenge that news media face in trying to reach people ages 14 to 25 who don't watch TV news or read the paper. And, although MySpace and Facebook are free, it can't bode well that not just government agencies are bypassing traditional media in trying to reach their audiences.

Too bad for the police. With newsrooms so short-staffed, many stories show up on the air barely re-written from the news releases. This morning one of our local stations called a police dog a "canine deputy" numerous times in a story.

Someone had obviously re-typed that police-speak verbatim without a thought from the news release. Just because someone uses officialese gobbledy-gook doesn't mean newswriters have to repeat it. In fact, a journalist's job is to translate that non-sense into plain language.

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