Westchester Co. residents get the picture

The Westchester County, N.Y., government has added video to the news content

carried on its Web site, as part of an effort to flesh out the information

services it offers to its otherwise locally media-poor citizens.

Because the county is considered part of the metropolitan New York area,

the local paper is, by default, the New York Times, which devotes little

space to county news. The county also lacks a truly local television station.

So the county is trying to fill that gap with video snippets of area

events and items of interest to the increasingly extensive text-based news

it already carries on the site.

"One of the most popular things on the site for years has been the streaming

video of the county executive's presentation of the yearly budget," said

Norm Jacknis, Westchester's chief information officer. "We thought that

now would be good time to extend that to video news reports also, particularly

given the kind of broadband access people in the county have."

Westchester has laid down more than 500 miles of fiber as part of a

broadband network backbone for the county, Jacknis said, and he expects

the majority of residents will have broadband access within the next two

years.

The government has a dedicated video communications staff, which up

to now has focused mainly on producing items for public Cable TV access

channels, but Jacknis said much of that effort will be switched over to

producing Web news.

In addition to the clip on the budget, recent one-to-two minute video

news segments — available in English and Spanish — have regarded newly

opened branches of Westchester Community College, programs for the Hispanic

community, a new child-oriented training program for emergency workers,

and a new water quality initiative.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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