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September 14, 1998

Communications Committee Final Report

The Communications Subcommittee of the Reston 2000 Task Force had two tasks. First, like the other Subcommittees, we were to develop goals, objectives and recommendations to address communications issues confronting Reston through the year 2020. Additionally, the Subcommittee was asked to be the communications "agent" for the Reston 2000 task force.

With regard to the latter assignment, the Subcommittee initiated several actions to keep the Reston community informed of the Task Force�s progress.

Beginning in April, Task Force Chairman John Thillmann hosted a weekly 30 minute television program on Jones Cable Channel 8. The program, which has run some 20 weeks, is aired on Wednesday evenings at 10:00 pm and Thursday evenings at 8:00 pm. Jones also provided a live broadcast of a full Task Force meeting during which all Subcommittees presented their reports. These weekly programs provided status reports, discussions of issues and announcements of upcoming Task Force meetings.

Beginning in May, the Connection newspaper published weekly columns by the Task Force Chair, Vice Chair and Subcommittee Chairs. These columns provided information on issues the Task Force and its Subcommittees had under consideration.

The written work product of the Task Force, particularly the goals and objectives developed by the task force, were made available to the public on the Internet through the Fairfax County Government Web Site on Supervisor Dix�s Home Page (http://www.co.fairfax.va.us and clicking on gov/bos/hm/main and on the Reston 2000 icon.) A template for sending e-mail comments to the task force was also created.

The Subcommittee conducted two informative interviews to benchmark current communications media in Reston and to learn about future opportunities. Those interviews were with the Connection newspaper and Jones Cable.

Based on these interviews and numerous meetings and discussions among the Subcommittee members, the following goals, objectives and recommendations are presented to plan the Communications future of Reston.

 Goal 1: To develop an interactive, integrated internal communications plan for Reston

Encourage the development of an electronic village for Reston to take advantage of the technology business community and high incidence of personal computers and high penetration of cable TV in Reston.

  • Establish Reston as a pre-eminent technology community by linking businesses, schools, community organizations, government and individuals citizens to exchange information; facilitate life-long learning, as well as pre-school, elementary, secondary, higher and continuing education; electronic commerce; promote telecommuting; enhance communication with the community; and facilitate increased citizen participation in Reston community issues and organizations through the electronic village.
  • Utilize the existing and growing information technology business base in Reston as the catalyst for the electronic village.
  • Encourage access to computer systems and information technology training to populations in need through public schools, libraries, RCC.com and other public and non-profit organizations, and corporate and individual charitable donations.
Facilitate a periodic training program between Reston citizens and community organizations and the local news media (newspapers, cable, etc.) to assist organizations in learning and improving on ways to work with the media, to understand the news needs and desires of the media, and to inform the media of organizations� missions, activities and the sources of information in such organizations.
  • Create cooperative efforts between the residents and the community to include the news media and community organizations, particularly the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce and Reston Citizens Association, to enhance community communication through the media.
Establish a forum for civil discourse of governmental issues affecting Reston, combined with a program to enhance citizen understanding of the respective roles of Reston organizations, Fairfax County, the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Federal government in such issues.
  • Encourage the increased use of "town meetings", television programs, and other forums by elected and appointed government officials, and the leadership of community organizations.
  • Encourage more continuity and longevity among reporters at Reston newspapers in order to reduce the turnover in community reporters, thus the lack of institutional memory or deep understanding of issues, players and organizations� roles and interests.
  • Encourage an increase in the number of news reporters assigned to cover Reston such that it is commensurate with the population growth of Reston.
  • Encourage greater new media dissemination using all sources available on longstanding issues that affect day to day issues in Reston to keep newcomers in our highly transient population informed about Reston�s history and institutions.
Promote the full utilization of existing media resources (newspapers, cable TV, internet) to disseminate news and information about Reston activities in order to enhance the ability of Reston residents to become and remain knowledgeable about community affairs and to participate in the community.
  • Headline News can be pre-empted with 5 minutes of local news at 24 and 54 past the hour, with ad sales available. A "Reston news" module in this time period should be produced to provide the Reston community with news that may be too local for daily newspapers, but which needs to be disseminated in a more timely manner than can be provided by weekly newspapers.
  • Establish a Community Bulletin Board scroll on Jones Cable to provide written news as well as a calendar of events in Reston.
  • Encourage the increased use of public service announcements (PSAs) by Reston community and social service organizations in order to make individuals aware of programs and services available through such organizations.
Create and coordinate a means of including in the communications within Reston all Reston citizens, including those who work in Reston but do not live in Reston.
  • Extend newspaper circulation and cable television penetration into Reston businesses, in addition to residences.
  • Encourage the utilization and development of various media (cable television, radio, internet, etc.) that can focus on the greater Reston community.
  • Include all of the Reston Master Plan (particularly Polo Village and West of Stuart Road) in the Jones Cable franchise area.

Goal 2: To develop an external strategic plan to promote and maintain the image and identity of Reston to audiences outside of Reston

Facilitate the designation of an entity or entities to assume responsibility for "marketing" Reston to outside audiences, to include but not be limited to those activities heretofore performed by the developer of Reston.

  • Promote Reston as the epicenter of the Dulles technology corridor as a premier business location.
  • Promote Reston as a premier planned community and residential area with a high quality of life.
  • Educate students of planning and researchers of planned communities on Reston�s progress and success.
  • Provide sustained economic development and redevelopment outreach (in cooperation with other government and private organizations with economic development responsibilities) to assure jobs growth and creation, stable property values, and the continued economic health of the community.
  • Promote exchanges between Reston and other communities (domestic and international) to share information, experiences and solutions to challenges and issues.

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