Ipswich council dodges questions on new website launch
A NEW website featuring the latest Ipswich news has gone live, and it's the council who launched it.
Ipswich City Council's latest website www.ipswichfirst.com.au is powered by Wordpress and contains no obvious council branding.
The council has confirmed it's behind the website which features exclusive interviews with people the council has exclusive access to.
The ipswichfirst.com.au website was the 13th launched by the council, which has this week launched number 14 - www.ipswichskiphire.com.au.
This year the council's communication/ media team has doubled in size.
The council says the launch of its own news website won't change the way it interacts with the media.
Rather it will increase the volume of content available to journalists who will be able to copy and paste off the website, and increase direct contact with the community.
An Ipswich City Council spokesperson said it was always the council's desire to communicate its programs and services to residents.
"Digital communication is an extremely cost-effective method of doing the same thing and aligns with council's Smart City initiatives," the spokesperson said.
The QT asked the council a series of questions around the launch of this new website (questions and answers have been published in full below) including whether the council has employed more staff to work on the new website.
The council says no staff were hired specifically to operate the new site, but the media unit has undergone a restructure "to increase direct communication with residents".
This year the council has employed an additional media manager, Simon Holt a previous editor for Fairfax Media.
Last month the council advertised two media positions, with the job ads specifying an annual salary of between $76,686 and $79,994.
Assuming the positions were filled, this brings the council's team to six; two managers, two existing media officers plus the two new ones.
The QT also asked a follow up question on how much the council spends on Facebook advertising for its 14 websites and are awaiting the response.
Ipswich City Council websites
QT questions and Ipswich City Council responses (published in full)
QT: I was hoping you could help me with a few follow up questions on the council's new ipswichfirst.com.au website. Can you tell me;
- Why has the council set up a new, news website?
The website is simply a vehicle through which we can house content. In the same way we share tourism information with people who want to visit the city, we feel it's important for ratepayers and anybody interested in our city to have easy access to information.
- How many additional staff were employed to operate the news site?
None specifically to operate the site, however council has restructured its media unit to increase direct communication with residents. The aim is to increase the amount of content we prepare and make it available for all media outlets to use at their discretion. The focus is to highlight the great things being done in, around, and for the growing city of Ipswich. Council's media unit was established more than 25 years ago to liaise with media outlets and to tell stories about all the city has to offer.
- How much has it cost to set up the new website?
The site is driven by Wordpress and built within current resources.
- How will the community benefit from the creation of this news service (ie: how would you justify the use of ratepayer money in doing this?
It is always council's desire to communicate its programs and services with all residents, whether it be via mailouts, traditional media, brochures, forums or other methods. Digital communication is an extremely cost-effective method of doing the same thing and aligns with council's Smart City initiatives.
- Does the council plan to change the way it interacts with the news media following the launch of its own news service?
No. The only change will be that media will have access to more content.
- How many websites does the council now operate?
- How much does it cost to operate these websites?
Council websites include Ipswich Libraries, Discover Ipswich, Ipswich Art Gallery, Ipswich Civic Centre, Planning and Development, Emergency Management Dashboard and council's main City of Ipswich website. Council staff maintain all websites as the most cost effective method of providing these important services to the community.