Non-emergency Media Policy, San Jose Public Library

ID#: 
PL_360
Supersedes/Appends/Amends: 
New

Statement of Policy & Text

For the purpose of this policy, “media” is defined as reporters, editors, photographers, researchers and other news gathering persons—including student journalists—from newspapers; magazines; professional journals; television and radio stations; networks; cable news channels; and Internet web sites.

Inquiries from the news media are a high priority and must be responded to by the appropriate person as quickly and efficiently as possible. Every effort must be made to meet media deadlines and to ensure that all information released is accurate. Employees who represent the Library as media spokespersons should avoid speculation on any topic and refrain from offering personal opinions about City or Library policies or programs, even when asked to do so by a reporter.

Need for the Policy

The news media are an important component of the Library’s ability to communicate with and serve the public, accomplish public policy goals, and provide high quality and responsive services.

It is the goal of the Library to keep the public informed about Library achievements and efforts. The Library seeks opportunities to proactively communicate by notifying local, and trade media about Library achievements, awards, accomplishments, and innovations.

Requirements & Guidelines

Generally, the business conducted by the City of San José (and in turn, the Library Department) is public, and therefore is public information. Inquiries regarding pending litigation, matters involving a significant exposure to litigation, certain personnel-related information, and individual customer circulation records are exceptions. The Library Director or designee will contact the City Attorney’s Office if there are questions as to whether certain information must be made available to the media.

DEPARTMENT OPERATIONAL INQUIRIES

Operational inquiries involve basic factual or procedural information; e.g., item checkout limits, number of public access Internet computers, etc.

Other than the Marketing Communications Director, only Library Managers and above, are authorized to represent the Library when contacted by the media, although at times they may refer the media to specific staff members. All other employees shall refer media inquiries to their supervisor or to the Library’s Marketing Communications Director.

Media inquiries that are referred to another employee must be made to a live person, not left as voicemail or sent via email. The following information needs to be recorded about the media inquiry:

  • Date and time of contact
  • Reporter’s name and telephone number
  • Name of media organization
  • The reporter’s deadline
  • Best time to reach the reporter
  • Brief summary of the inquiry and conversation

Every attempt should be made to meet reporters’ deadlines; however information should only be released when it is known to be factually accurate. When in doubt about information, check with a member of the Library Management Team, or with the Marketing Communications Director.

DEPARTMENT POLICY-RELATED INQUIRIES

Other than the Marketing Communications Director, only Library Managers and above, are authorized to represent the Library when contacted by the media, although at times these individuals may refer the media to specific staff members.

The Library has a number of policies. Library Managers and above may answer inquiries from the media on the content of these policies. Inquiries related to the underlying principles of a policy that are open to interpretation from a political, constitutional, and/or legal perspective should be referred to the Library Director. Examples of such policies include but are not limited to those covering Computers - Internet Access Use, Information Tables, Intellectual Freedom, and Meeting Rooms.

When in doubt about the information, or uncomfortable answering the question, inquiries should be forwarded to the Library Director. Inquiries regarding the Library budget should also be referred to the Library Director.

All referrals must be made to a live body, not left as voicemail or sent via email. If the Library Director is unavailable, staff should work with the Director’s Administrative Assistant to locate a member of the Library Management Team. Every attempt should be made to meet reporters’ deadlines; however, information should only be released when it is known to be factually accurate. Library staff need to record the following and relay it as part of the notification:

  • Date and time of contact
  • Reporter’s name and telephone number
  • Name of media organization
  • The reporter’s deadline
  • Best time to reach the reporter
  • Brief summary of the inquiry and conversation

MEDIA CONTACT REPORTING

All media contacts, no matter how brief, must be reported immediately to the employee’s supervisor and an email sent to the Marketing Communications Director. The email should include:

  • Employee’s name
  • Date and approximate time of contact
  • Reporter’s name and phone number
  • Name of media organization
  • Brief summary of the inquiry and conversation

The Marketing Communications Director shall report these contacts to the Library Director, the City Public Outreach Manager, the Mayor’s Communications Director and/or other persons, when appropriate.

NOTIFICATIONS AND REFERRALS

Whenever a news media contact is of citywide significance, is likely to result in controversy, has a practical and/or political impact on a large segment of the community, or relates to an emergency situation, the Library’s Marketing Communications Director should be notified immediately. If the Marketing Communications Director is unavailable staff should contact the Library Director. This notification must be made to a live body, not left as voicemail or sent via email. The Marketing Communications Director or Library Director will ensure that Library Management and the City Manager’s Public Outreach Office and any other departments involved are contacted and/or coordinated with immediately.

PUBLIC RECORDS REQUESTS

Requests from the media for public records should be handled promptly and consistent with the City’s Public Records Policy. All public records requests should be forwarded to the Library Director’s Administrative Assistant. When there are questions about whether the information requested can be released, the Library Director will consult with the City Attorney’s Office. The Library Director’s Administrative Assistant will ensure that the City Manager’s Public Outreach Office is notified whenever such a request is received. This requirement is in addition to any notification requirements contained in the City’s Public Records Act Policy.

CORRECTIONS, COMMMENTARY, LETTERS

The Library has an obligation to help the news media provide accurate information to the public. Therefore, factual errors should be corrected in an appropriate and timely way. Corrections, commentary, and letters will only be submitted by the Library Director, or designee.

Commentary, opinion columns, and letters to the editor that are written to represent the City’s view regarding operations, policies, or City positions must be coordinated with the City Manager’s Public Outreach Office. Individual City employees may express personal opinions, but not as representatives of the City unless they have prior approval by the City Manager’s Public Outreach Office. Any library employee seeking this approval needs to contact the Library’s Marketing Communications Director who will interface with the Library Director and the City Manager’s Public Outreach Office.

NEWS CONFERENCES/EVENT PLANNING

News conferences or other efforts to attract media attention about an issue or for an event must be coordinated with the Library’s Marketing Communications Director or designee, who will then coordinate with the City Manager’s Public Outreach Office, the Mayor’s Communications Office, and/or the affected City Councilmember(s).

Requests from the office(s) of the Mayor and/or a City Councilmember for assistance with, or participation in, a news conference or other efforts to attract media attention will be coordinated by the Library’s Marketing Communications Director or designee, who will then coordinate with the City Manager’s Public Outreach Office.

MAYOR AND COUNCIL ROLES

(1) Notification

Whenever an event of citywide or council district significance occurs, the City Manager’s Office should be notified immediately. Events of citywide or district significance are events that have or could have a significant practical or political impact on the City as a whole, on a significant portion of the community, or on a neighborhood. This includes but is not limited to any incident or issue that is likely to attract media interest.

Library staff should follow established notification procedures for temporary branch closures and other occurrences having a similar level of concern. In all other instances, library staff should contact the Library Director immediately. Notification must be made to a live body, not just voicemail or email. If the Library Director is unavailable, staff should work with the Director’s Administrative Assistant to locate a member of the Library Management Team. The Library Director, or designee, will contact the City Manager’s Office. The notifying party and the City Manager’s Office will coordinate appropriate and timely notifications to the Mayor and/or City Councilmember(s).

(2) Media Inquiries to the Mayor’s Office

Media inquiries are frequently directed to the Mayor’s Communications Director. When such a request involves operational issues, the Mayor’s Office may refer calls to Library personnel. Library staff should refer to the section of this policy on Department Operational Inquiries for direction on handling these requests.

NEWS RELEASES

News releases are an opportunity for the Library to proactively communicate information to the community. This communications tool should be considered whenever the Library has a story to tell, needs to educate, inform, change attitudes or change the behavior of a broad segment of the San José community. Potential topics for news releases should be brought to the attention of the Marketing Communications Director for consideration.

All releases will be either written or reviewed by the Marketing Communications Director and approved by the Library Director, or a designee, prior to distribution. Additionally, all news releases must be approved by the City Manager’s Public Outreach Office before distribution. Therefore, all news releases drafted by others should be submitted to the Marketing Communications Director at least 48 hours in advance of the desired release date to accommodate the approval process. (Also see the section of this policy on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library Non-Emergency News & Media.)

MEDIA TRAINING

The Marketing Communications Director is available to provide media training, as needed, on topics such as news interview tips, preparation of key messages, and strategic communications planning related to Library Department programs and services.

DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR LIBRARY NON-EMERGENCY NEWS & MEDIA

San Jose Public Library (SJPL) and San Jose State University (SJSU) are each responsible for non-emergency news releases, responses to the media, and routine media information related to their respective events, areas and services at the King Library. Copies of these communications are forwarded to the other partner as appropriate. In the event of a planned absence, each partner will make arrangements for coverage of their duties. In the event of an unplanned absence, the respective supervisor assumes or delegates this role.

When media communications pertain to an issue or incident that relates to both organizations, SJPL and SJSU will work together on news releases and media contacts. Each partner will review these media communications and obtain appropriate approvals. SJPL is responsible for receiving approval from the City Manager’s Office and, when appropriate, the Mayor’s Office.

Media releases concerning SJSU exhibits to be held in the King Library will be handled/written by the King Library Events Coordinator and reviewed by SJSU's Media Relations Officer and Marketing Communications Director and/or others, depending on the release.

News releases and other media communications will be written using standard formats. The King Library style guide and the SJSU style guide at http://www.sjsu.edu/communications/identity/tellyourstory/editorial/index.html will be used as needed.

Applicable Personnel/Departments

ALL

Distributions

BOTH

Approval(s)

Reviewed and approved by: Signature/Name Date of Approval
 SJPL Library Director  Jane Light  9/5/06 

History & Dates

Category of Policy & WBS#: Administration/ Operations
Author(s): Lorraine Oback, SJPL Marketing Public Outreach Representative and Kary Bloom, SJPL Assistant to Library Director
Authorized by: Jane Light, SJPL Library Director
Date Written: 9/1/06
Date Effective: 10/10/06
Date(s) of Revision(s):

References

Communication - News & Media Non-emergency Policy, King Library