Letter: Underused Podium

Jack Neely's cover story on local websites ["Image Problem," March 7, 2013] cinches my admiration for his uncanny canniness. His analysis of the highs and lows are spot-on. My profession takes me to many municipal websites and what I see there mirrors much of what Mr. Neely found here.

To be fair, municipal Web designers face crushing workloads that often exceed their private-sector colleagues. Still, a relevant message is no more costly to digitize than any other.

No question, East Tennessee has an almost eye-watering natural beauty. I, too, am baffled to see photos of local scenery elbowed aside by other, less inspiring messages. (Are we perhaps jaded by the abundance of real billboards in our real landscapes?)

A webpage is a powerful podium that amplifies any message. As such, it poses a classic dilemma sometimes faced by public speakers. Should the speech-maker rely on some old, easy and familiar points? Or should they push past their own personal comfort zone in favor of livelier topics that interest today's audience? I know which speaker I would prefer to listen to.

I understand the rationales for each of the websites mentioned in the article. The pressure to cater to in-house concerns is strong. But as a seasoned Web surfer, I find that letting the community's authentic personality show—including a quirk or two—is the best welcome of all.

Kudos to Metro Pulse for more unexpected insights into our local communities.

John Innes

Oak Ridge