News & Views

Internet Gains on Television as Public’s Main News Source

A new Pew Research Center poll confirms the inexorable shift toward Americans receiving an ever-increasing share of their news from the Internet.

41% of Americans look primarily to the Internet for national and international news: a 17% increase from 2008.

The number of Americans under 30 citing the Internet as their primary news source has nearly doubled in the last three years, from 34% to 65%.

While Americans in the pre-retirement bracket still primarily rely on television for their news, fully 34% say the Internet is the main news source.

The Pew Research Center survey offers a number of interesting insights, but the bottom line is the nature of communications technology means the increasing migration to the Internet for news is unstoppable; anyone needing to communicate with the public has to adapt their methods accordingly.

This is especially true for local government agencies, as it becomes more difficult to communicate important news and information to the public in this era of shrinking newspaper readership (when even local TV news programming reaches far fewer people than in the past). It is critical for local agencies to develop and deploy their own news and public information infrastructure in order to meet the challenges of the modern media age.

Pacific Strategies is helping local agencies do exactly that. If you are interested in a consultation about how we can assist your agency in assessing and modernizing its public information strategy, and reaping the benefits of doing so, please contact us at 714.504.4106 or

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More Local Agencies Getting Ahead Of Transparency Curve

This is from the California Special Districts Association e-newsletter:

CSDA has been made aware by a number of member districts that some media outlets are now submitting Public Records Act requests for information regarding base salaries, benefits, board member compensation, loans, “perks” provided and other items. We felt it was important to advise our members so that you can begin preparing the information internally should you receive such requests.

Further, some districts have already taken the extra step in transparency to post information online, such as salary ranges for positions, benefits offered and contracts. These districts are proactively demonstrating their openness to providing information to the public, media and others that may be interested.

Proactive transparency by local governments is an example of good policy that is also smart public relations. The ongoing scandal enveloping the City of Bell has deepened citizens’ cynicism toward government. The best way to show Bell is an anomaly rather than representative is for local governments to serve as their own watchdogs and embrace maximum transparency and interaction with residents.

Media coverage of local government is increasingly characterized by what I call “public records act journalism”: reporters submit wide-ranging PRAs to local agencies, then sift through the document trove in search of stories. Rather than wait their turn on the media chopping block and hope for the best, more local governments should emulate those cities and special districts that are prominently, proactively publishing the salary and compensation information on their websites. After all, it is public information that the public has a right to know, and putting it out voluntarily helps defuse public cynicism and suspicion — and decreases the likelihood of a city or special district becoming a media target.


Veteran public affairs consultancy Pacific Strategies applies its strategic communications experience and emerging media expertise to help local governments develop and implement communications programs to enhance transparency and positive, interactive communications with constituents.

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PS Principal Addresses Emerging Media Conferences

Last week, Pacific Strategies principal Matthew Cunningham participated in two panel discussions on the role of emerging media in politics, policy and governance.

On Wednesday, Cunningham was part of a RightOnline panel in Sacramento, organized by Americans for Prosperity as part of a training seminar to teach activists how to harness emerging media tools like blogs, FaceBook and Twitter to advance their causes.

On Friday, Cunningham joined founder Jim DeYong and others to speak to the California Women’s Leadership Association about the impact of emerging media, and offer insights into how to interact with blogs and other emerging media actors on the political stage.

Cunningham is a regularly invited to address conferences, luncheons and other events on topics related to emerging media. If your organization is considering including an emerging media segment or element to a future conference or event, Cunningham is available to speak, or assist in planning the program.

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