Power Play

Why is the city giving 9News more than $500,000?

Also on board was Ritter, who received face time in the first batch of announcements -- and he's been succeeded by current DA Mitch Morrissey, Lieutenant Governor Jane Norton, Denver mayor John Hickenlooper and the aforementioned 9Newsers. (The anchors' presence is appropriate, Rabinowitz feels, "because they're looked upon as leaders of the community, too.") As is typical with 9News productions, the spots are extremely well made and professional -- yet the collection is far from complete. Of more than a dozen PSAs from 2004 and 2005 that can be triggered online, not one features Arakawa or her colleagues. Rabinowitz isn't sure why that's the case, and neither can she explain the absence of any new content from 2006 with the exception of two Parents Are the Power-related segments culled from Colorado and Company, a daily hybrid of a talk show and an infomercial.

These hints of neglect don't render the site useless. Indeed, there's a great deal of information available on the topics of prevention, intervention and treatment. Not all of the content is original -- several "sample conversations" are products of another website, TheAntiDrug.com -- and a lot of the interview footage is recycled from one announcement to another. Even so, the address presents plenty of resources for parents at their wit's end, as was noted in an evaluation of the program's effectiveness in 2005 by JVA Consulting. Such folks aren't checking out the site in overwhelming numbers; visits only increased from 2,509 in April to 4,590 in November despite the airing of 241 PSAs during a period slightly longer than that span. Moreover, JVA described attendance at two community meetings and an online chat as "lower than expected." But the study concluded that the campaign is "an ideal venue for reaching out to parents to promote attitude change about teen alcohol and drug use, and subsequent behavior change in how they parent their children."

Consequently, the Daniels Fund is investing in the initiative for another year, and spokesman Droege offers copious compliments to 9News -- although he stops short of pledging to stick with the station forever. "With the limited pool of resources, we always have to look at what's the most effective way to reach the maximum number of parents," he says.

Rabinowitz hopes to broaden the program's scope through additional "community outreach sessions," and she's got the support of Channel 9 general manager Mark Cornetta, who insists that the goal of the program is "to educate people, not to promote 9News. We have enough airtime to promote our talent, so that's not part of our campaign."

Guess it's just a happy side effect.

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