The DCR is Having Issues

The Department of Conservation and Recreation has been having a rough month. In late August it came to light that two high-ranking employees used government funds (also commonly called “taxpayer’s money”) to throw a pre-Fourth of July party.

Commissioner Leo Roy and Deputy Commissioner Matthew Sisk were suspended for a week without pay at the beginning of September for their roles in the party planning.

This week, it was announced that Sisk resigned his position at the DCR. Depending on the news source, the resignation was listed as either “quit” or “forced to resign”, which are very different causes (however, same outcome for both).

“Matthew Sisk has resigned effective immediately. As this is a personnel matter, no other information is available,” Peter Lorenz, spokesman for Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (DCR’s parents agency), said in a statement.

The resignation surrounds Sisk’s inappropriate use of the siren and flashing lights on his state-issues vehicle. According to the Boston Globe, he used the sirens to cut through traffic in Boston.

Cue every other Boston driver saying “I KNEW IT” (or maybe it was just me who always thought that cops used the sirens for this purpose).

State Police stated Saturday they received a complaint about a government-issued vehicle driving “with emergency equipment activated” in the Seaport District. After these issues were uncovered Governor Charlie Baker started a review of employee’s use of the emergency equipment in state-issued cars.

“Governor Baker is disappointed to learn of the deputy commissioner’s poor judgment in inappropriately using a state vehicle,’’ said communication director Lizzy Guyton. “He accepts his resignation and looks forward to a thorough review to ensure lights and sirens are strictly used for emergency purposes.”

This is bound to lead to more regulations, however the fact I found more shocking is that the fine for the misuse of lights and sirens is only $300. I think Sisk would have preferred the fine to his punishment.

On top of all of these personnel issues, on Thursday the DCR mistakenly sent out a tweet in support of ballot question 2 (lifting the charter school cap).

Boston Herald-provided screenshot of erroneous tweet
Boston Herald-provided screenshot of erroneous tweet

A staffer mistakenly sent the tweet from the DCR twitter account rather than their personal one. Ethics rules are against using public resources (such as a twitter account) for political purposes. I’m interested to see what the next faux-pas will be for this department.

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Reporting in the 21st century

If you had told a full-time journalist ten years ago that they’d soon be reporting the news using “social media” or “apps”, I’m sure most of them would have thought you were crazy and ignored it.

Growing up as a “digital native”, I’ve only known the world with Internet. I don’t know how to read a map to get from point A to point B, I’ve never written a friend a letter (besides thank-you notes to my grandparents), and I’ve only ever used physical encyclopedias in lower grade school. I don’t even remember my parents having dial-up for that matter.

So when Tory Starr came to class saying her job title was “Director of Social Media” at WGBH, I never gave it a second thought. To me, it seems like a cool, cutting-edge job to have given the way journalism is going.

Every form of social media is involved in the news cycle in one way or another. And although you may not get all of the people, all of time, you can get SOME of the people, SOME of the time (which may just be enough).

“Within each of these platforms, the ecosystem is so big. You’re not going to reach every, or most people maybe, but there are opportunities,” Tory said.

The more I think about this, the more it makes sense to me. Facebook has over a billion active daily users. You reach only .5% of these, and that is still over 5 million people. Who can then send it to another .5%, who can show it to another .5%, and so on. The room for growth seems almost infinite. When she called Facebook king, she was extremely accurate.

However, not every platform can rival Facebook. Twitter and Snapchat are still finding their way in the digital media age, and that’s not always a bad thing. It means there’s still room for growth and changes. Storytelling isn’t going anywhere, there’s just new tools.

People in my generation joke about finding a job in the journalism field, given the current state of newspapers. After today’s class, and seeing how positions like Tory’s have evolved, I think it’s clear that there are still journalism jobs available; they’re just in new and exciting places.

 

Joining the Word of Twitter

This week I dusted off the old twitter account from freshman year that I made for an intro journalism class, and jumped back into the Twitter world. Since I still am newish to the platform, I expect that this list will change drastically throughout the semester, however for the time being I have narrowed down a list of Massachusetts-centered people to follow to get updates on all things politics on Beacon Hill.

1.@MassGovernor: Who better to start off the list than the Governor of Massachusetts, Charlie Baker? Given he is one of the most heavily involved people in Boston-politics, as well as state-wide politics, this was a Twitter account I couldn’t afford to not follow

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2.@marty_walsh: If I was going to follow Charlie Baker, a logical next step was to follow his Boston-based colleague Mayor Marty Walsh. Given how much is going on in both the national and state election, a vast majority of his tweets have to do with politics. Although I’m secretly hoping Baker and him will release another parody music video.

3. & 4. @MassGOP and @massdems: I lumped these two together so this post didn’t look like I was biased either way. I decided to follow both of these accounts because they frequently use the hashtag #mapoli, for obvious reasons. Although the GOP has a smaller following in Massachusetts (both literally and on Twitter), both accounts have a lot at stake in the upcoming local elections. Although most of the things they tweet will have a slant, by following both hopefully I can find a happy middle ground.

5.@titojackson: After following the wrong Tito Jackson initially (from the Jackson 5, oops!) the RIGHT Tito Jackson seemed like a logical person to follow on twitter. Jackson has been incredibly vocal about this year’s state ballot questions, especially about lifting the charter school cap. He represents district 7, and represents all of Roxbury, and parts of South End, Dorchester, and Fenway.

“Wrong” Titoscreen-shot-2016-09-20-at-6-47-12-pm

“Right” Tito

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6.@ShiraCenter: Shira Center is a political editor at the Boston Globe. I will be checking this account less frequently than others however, because there also are a good number of tweets that are more “personal” than “newsworthy”.

7. @FeliceBelman: Felice Belman is another political editor for the Boston Globe. Unlike Center, there appears to be more postings regarding political news (even if they are mostly from the Boston Globe). As my Twitter-ness develops, I am hoping to expand outside the Boston Globe circle.

8.@SenMikeMoore: Senator Michael Moore represents Worcester district. Since he is a representative in the local legislature, he frequently tweets about local issues, especially the local ballot questions. He also retweets often.
9.@KennyTorrella: Kenny Torrella is an activist who works at “Yes on 3 to Prevent Animal Cruelty in MA”. Since this is the ballot question I feel like I know the least about, I wanted to see what his twitter feed would look like. I am trying to find an opponent of the ballot question to follow as well. Torrella already messaged me with a link to read more about his initiative, so following seems like a good thing.

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10. @SoniaChangDiaz: Sonia Chang-Diaz is another state senator representing the 2nd Suffolk District. Since she is the chair for the Joint Committee on Education, and there’s a ballot question surrounding public schools vs. charter schools, I thought it would be interesting to see what she tweets/retweets on the matter.

I will definitely be adding to these throughout the semester, and following the #mapoli on TweetDeck!