By Renee Allemand
For my entire collegiate and professional career I've been on the other side of government.
Up until January of this year, I've edited stories about public meetings, written articles about government activities and helped my reporter colleagues in their “watchdog” roles at the Daily Star newspaper in Hammond.
I switched sides and moved back home in March.
My new job as Public Information Officer is shaping up to be a busy one. I am working to improve our government access channel, COX cable channel 6. I am also working with the St. Charles Parish Technology Department on plans for a new parish web site that will offer a wealth of information and functionality to citizens.
User-friendliness is my goal for these government media outlets. After all, information is only usable if it's understandable. If viewers can't read the information on Channel 6, the station hasn't served its purpose. The same goes for the Web site, www.stcharlesgov.net.
It's critically important for government to keep the public informed of its activities. Whether it's council meetings, updates on public works projects or the latest adoptable pets at animal control, transparency is key.
I still think of myself as a news reporter. And I don't see that as a bad thing. My training as a journalist makes me curious and responsive to my audience, which includes every citizen of St. Charles Parish. I always ask myself - What will my readers want to know? If I'm not satisfied with the answers, I dig deeper.
I'm excited to get started on some great new projects, like informative and educational newsletters and updated brochures for government agencies like Community Services.
Keep your eyes peeled.
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Talk to St. Charles
What would you like to see in a new parish Web site? The St. Charles Parish Public Information and Technology Departments are seeking public input on features to be included on the new parish Web site. Would you like to pay your bill for parish services online? What about streaming video of the last council meeting? Contact me at (985) 783-5000 or firstname.lastname@example.org with your suggestions.
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Ask the parish
St. Charles Parish officials want to answer your burning questions. That's the aim of a new segment being planned for Channel 6. The short spots will highlight questions asked by the public to be answered by the appropriate department or official. Residents can submit their questions via e-mail at email@example.com.
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Videographer Melanie Worrall is constantly working on new features for Channel 6. We want the channel to be engaging, informative and even entertaining. To that end, we've introduced a new calendar segment that will feature upcoming events from around the parish. And we've also come up with “Around the Parish,” a show that informs viewers of recent events and projects. Melanie uses information from my press releases and pictures, as well as her own video, in her production.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Renee Allemand is public information officer of St. Charles Parish.)