May 20, 2013
When protesters were rioting in Seattle on May 1, reporters covering the scene started receiving Twitter messages from the police department almost at the same time as officers were giving them the same information in person.
As Poynter.org reports, more and more police departments — including those in Seattle, Boston and Cleveland — are using social media to contact journalists before the reporters have contacted the police departments.
In Cleveland, where three young women were discovered earlier this month after being held captive for nearly a decade, the city’s Department of Public Safety used Twitter to tell journalists to send a direct message if they wanted credentials for a press conference.
Erica Creech, the department’s communication planner, said she also took requests in more traditional ways, but noted, “If I can knock out the local media … that’s one less phone call or one less email that I have to worry about.”
Last month, the Boston Police Department used Twitter to remind press organizations that the police were watching and reading — and sometimes critiquing — their news coverage.
In the Seattle Police Department, press releases have become “few and far between,” said Sgt. Sean Whitcomb, who runs the force’s six-person public-affairs shop. “It’s not how we do business anymore.” — Greg Beaubien