City Launches
By Office of Communication
Posted on February 02, 2012, February 02, 2012

When a twin-engine aircraft alerted the Arlington Municipal Airport control tower on Jan. 18 of a potential nose gear problem, local media quickly dispatched personnel to the scene.

Not long after the plane landed safely, Arlington residents knew all was well because Airport Manager Bob Porter said so - though not necessarily in the newspaper or on a TV newscast, but in an article on the City's website.

For years the City has kept its citizens informed by distributing news along with a variety of platforms, from a broadcast channel to a twice-monthly electronic newsletter to its municipal website.

Now there's a new platform where it all comes together:

The new website is like a typical site you would find from a news organization, with a focus on Arlington. contains photos, video clips, and a user-friendly interface to allow straightforward navigation to everything from City news, community news, and a calendar of events to social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

"This is really a news site, in every sense of the word," said Marketing Communications Manager Rebecca Rodriguez. "It's how news is being delivered today and we want to be in front of that. Initially, we thought of simply doing a City of Arlington blog, but as we began to put it together we decided that we could take something like a blog, customize it and make it multipurpose."

The City's longtime website at isn't going away - it is just shifting in focus, said, Rodriguez. Residents will find less emphasis on news but still have quick access to government information such as mayor and council meetings, budgets, planning and zoning matters, and a variety of other City issues.

What is going away is E Arlington, a four-year-old electronic newsletter that goes out to subscribers on the 1stand 15thof each month. The final issue is Feb. 1.

With its up-to-the-minute coverage of city issues and community events, is a lively, interactive site where residents can stay abreast of what's happening in Arlington. Users can also weigh-in on the stories they read by posting their own comments, as well as suggest events to be posted on the calendar.

Giving citizens a voice on the site is paramount to the transparency of open government, said Rodriguez.

"Citizens need to have a place to go that is more convenient than driving up to City Hall on a Tuesday and addressing council," Rodriguez said. "They are always welcomed to do that and there's a process for that, but in terms of getting the information they want and need, this is where people go now. We go to social media. We go to our computers and laptops. More and more, it's how people are engaged and stay engaged. We wanted to give them more of an opportunity to do that."

Citizens who already communicate with the City via Facebook or Twitter will find the integration of social media rather seamless. Users have the chance to post straight to their own Facebook page or share to others right from the site.

"The site has the potential to reach so many more people because it will be so easy to connect to Facebook and Twitter," said Social Media Coordinator Renee MacQuaid. "Being able to share material easily only makes people do more of it. If you're reading a cool story, you can just share it with someone else. That just means more people are being exposed to it." is updated daily, or even hourly depending upon the need.

"This new site allows us to get information out easily and extremely quickly," said Michelle Rice, the City of Arlington's managing editor. "We no longer have to wait for the next newsletter edition to get our information out in the community or even rely on local media to help. In fact, residents will often find the latest Arlington news on this site before anywhere else."

Users are able to go straight to the site by using the site address or can subscribe via an RSS feed and receive daily notifications when something new has hit the site. You can also subscribe via email and get notifications that way.

Rodriguez said the site is also quite intuitive. Once you begin to use it over a certain amount of time it will begin to recognize the stories you read and actually "recommend" similar stories you might find intriguing.

"For instance, if you're looking at a lot of community, government, or city council stories, other stories you may or my not have read will be offered as something you might also find interesting," she said.

Partnerships with the University of Texas at Arlington and Arlington ISD allow the site to be more comprehensive in its coverage, making the place where people who live in Arlington go first to learn about issues and community events.

"There's so much happening within Arlington and City Hall that's of such great interest to people who live here," Rodriguez said. " is just a natural evolution of how we will inform them."

By: Kenneth Perkins

New website

Community, Government, Headlines, News