Fact Check: City Communications

At the September 4 meeting of the City’s Finance, Budget, and Personnel Committee, the committee discussed the creation of a City Communications Department.

In addition to what MCTV (TriMedia) is currently doing under contract with the City, the Communications Coordinator will be expected to do an extensive list of additional duties, including serve as the City Webmaster, manage Facebook, establish and manage other social media, prepare news releases, complete and publish a weekly newsletter, create a marketing/advertising campaign, and recruit and manage volunteers.

The proposed cost of a communications department would be $203,850, paid through Charter Cabler Franchise Fees, though this is subject to change after the positions are evaluated by McGrath Human Resources Group for pay-grades.

Claim 1: The City can operate MCTV’s 3 channels with 2 FTE (full time equivalent staff) and add additional staff responsibilities because “that is what Wisconsin Rapids and Stevens Point do”.

Rating: True, but misleading.

Why: While yes, Wisconsin Rapids Community Media and Stevens Point Area Community Media both run their operations with less staff, they also only operate a single channel and only have to produce content for a single channel. At the same time, MCTV currently runs 3 channels.

  • Sources:
    http://www.wisconsinrapidscommunitymedia.com

    http://stevenspoint.com/index.aspx?NID=300
    http://www.marshfieldtv.com
    Mayor McManus Presentation to Finance Budget and Personnel
    Committee 9-4-18

Claim 2: MCTV hasn’t been using volunteers to its fullest extent; WRCM has 50 volunteers producing content.

Rating: False

Why: MCTV coordinator reports show that 43 volunteers have either produced or assisted in production of programs for MCTV in 2018. These tasks include full program creation, hosting programs, checking out cameras and recording events in the community, assistance with content production, and creative direction.

  • Source: Communications Committee Meeting 8-13-18
    Coordinator Reports to Marshfield Cable TV Committee February-
    September 2018

Claim 3: The City is going to save $72,000 a year with no decline in services.

Rating: False

Why: If the City is going to eliminate 1.5 FTE employees from an organization while at the same time adding job responsibilities, there will most likely be a drop in the quality of services or of the services provided…unless the expectation is to have the 2 FTE work 70-hour weeks.

Along with the drop in services, some of these savings were already going to be realized.

MCTV is currently leasing equipment from TriMedia to enhance the capabilities of the equipment MCTV owns, or to replace equipment that has failed and the City has not yet replaced. This lease is $1,150 a month, or $13,800 a year. If the city were to replace that equipment, it would be a savings to the City.

The Cable TV Committee also has just ended a program where they were paying for a media resources tab on the MCTV website on which articles could be pre-written for media outlets to help get the information out about what is going on in City government. By ending that program, the committee will save approximately $40,000 a year.

That brings the total savings already to be realized by the City to $53,800, so theoretically will only save an additional $18,200 while at the same time profoundly changing the nature of community broadcasting in Marshfield.

  • Source: Presentation by Mayor McManus to Finance Budget and Personnel
    Committee 9-4-18
    Cable TV Committee Invoices 9-10-18 and 8-13-18
    Cable TV Committee Meeting 9-10-18