York County will pay $10K for online article series about employees, departments

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch
York County spokesman Mark Walters talks to reporters outside the Office of Emergency Management on Thursday, Sept. 20. Walters accompanied representatives from the federal Small Business Administration and the Pennsylvania Emergency Response Agency to assess storm damage in Hellam and Chanceford townships.

York County will pay a local company about $10,000 to write a series of six online stories highlighting county employees and the departments where they work.

County spokesman Mark Walters told the Board of Commissioners at a Wednesday, Feb. 6, meeting that he hopes the series inspires a younger generation to work in county government.

"This is an opportunity for us to present what we do in a completely different way," he said.

The company, Our York Media, publishes sponsored and unsponsored content about York businesses and organizations on its website.

More:County officials: Wolf's voting machine pitch better than nothing

More:DePasquale praises York County CYF's progress in new audit report

Past clients include SpiriTrust Lutheran, York College, the Cultural Alliance of York County, Strathmeyer Christmas Trees and Kinsley Construction.

The commissioners unanimously approved the purchase.

The six stories will be between 500 and 750 words each and will be published online throughout the year. The total cost will be $9,840, which is equal to $1,640 per story.

That price includes photography and online promotion through the company's website and social networks, Walters said.

"This is not to replace what traditional media does, and it’s in no way any level of indictment on what traditional media does," he said. "It’s just a little different."

Our York Media's owners, Rebecca and Will Hanlon, are former employees at the York Daily Record. Rebecca was a reporter and Will was a copy editor.

Walters said Our York Media won't be given any special access to county records, departments or meetings that are otherwise inaccessible for local news reporters.

Instead, Walters said these stories will focus on everyday employees who keep the county government running smoothly, from changing light bulbs in the commissioners' board room to coordinating care and benefits for vulnerable populations.

More:York County commissioners approve third 911 Center audit in two years

More:Significant snowfall possible for York County next week

Walters said the first story will likely be about the Elections and Voter Registration office and the importance of voting, especially in a municipal election year such as 2019.

Of the county's approximately 400,000 residents, Walters said only about half are registered to vote, and he hopes a story that takes readers behind the scenes of the county elections office will encourage York countians to be more involved.

If the stories are well received by the public, Walters said he would be interested in sponsoring another round of content in 2020.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect Will Hanlon's former position at the York Daily Record.