WASHINGTON – It’s a Herculean task: Leaving journalism to apply the tenets of the field to a new sphere. In Washington, hundreds of journalists find great jobs at government agencies hoping to adopt a journalism-mindset in their communications.
For long-time journalist Rob Roberts, a video and multimedia expert, his new digital playground is at the Department of Energy.
After a career in newspapers including USA Today and the Raleigh News & Observer, jobs in online Flash design and a stint with a government agency operating from the White House, Roberts is the director of digital strategies for the DOE and runs Energy.gov.
“It’s interesting now because in the government space, I see a lot of what excited me about journalism 10 years ago. When I was at Raleigh, we were always watching what The Post was doing and what The New York Times was doing and saying, ‘How can we do it? That’s cool’ … Especially among the agencies that are starting to understand the Internet and starting to understand what they want to be doing as part of a digital strategy, we see that same level of competition where we’re looking at what State’s doing or we’re looking at, especially what the White House is doing, and using that as kind of a way sort of uping our game,” Roberts says.
Giving government a less formal voice
While Roberts says it’s exciting to take on the challenge of branding the Department of Energy both online and on social media, he says it’s a lot of work to convince a previously formal agency to loosen up and do something as simple as responding to questions on Twitter.
“I think people want to know you have a personality. I think they really want to know that you care about these issues and it’s we want people in our office who are passionate about the subject, who go home and read about renewables, who go home and are interested in hard-core science and partical accelerators and things like that. And I think it’s important that we convey that we’re interested in these topics,” Roberts says.
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