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Job Description Woes: Oregon County No Longer Asking "Do You Tweet?"

BY Nancy Scola | Thursday, May 14 2009

Multnomah County, Oregon, won't be getting its very own Twittering, Facebooking, and blogging social media coordinator after all. After getting heat for advertising the job at a government salary of $60,000 to $70,000 a year, Tom Wheeler, chair of the county that includes the city of Portland, yanked the listing. Wheeler has been making the case to his colleagues that the brave new Internet world is best navigated by government that connects with its people wherever their eyeballs happen to already be:

Looking forward, we have some ambitious plans to meet the demands of a changing media environment. The reality of shrinking news staff and 24/7 media coverage, means we will be producing more of our own news content. We hope to launch a county news television show later this year, and will be using more social media to get our messages directly to the pubic. We’re looking at creating a Multnomah County Facebook profile, and evaluating how tools like twitter make sense for our organization. You may not be aware that CDC is using twitter and the State Dept. hosts public Q&A’s on YouTube.

But the social media gig fell victim to public outcry. As Mashable's Pete Cashmore notes, the first line of the job description ",Do you tweet and use Facebook?," seemed about tailor-made for skeptical news teasers. Much of the trouble could probably have been avoided with a bland job title like "Online Communications Director." That said, Multnomah County's predicted budget short fall of $46 million dollars over the next two years probably didn't help matters much.