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Mayoral Statement - Mahoney Addresses The Forum’s Recent Article Regarding Governmental Communications Teams

When the work of these dedicated professionals is questioned by the local newspaper, it is my duty as mayor to explain the challenging work they are accomplishing


The following statement has been released from Fargo Mayor Dr. Tim Mahoney:

Fargo has seen tremendous growth in recent years, and as mayor I’m proud to say our City government has continued to adapt to serve the needs of a growing city. One of many ways we have evolved to better serve Fargo is by creating a centralized City communications team that is responsive and works for all City departments. This approach creates efficiencies in staffing across our City government and, in turn, saves taxpayer money. Instead of having communications staff members working separately in different departments, our centralized communications team does more with less while serving all departments and divisions.

The Forum’s recent article about local government communications teams omitted key facts regarding The City of Fargo’s communications team – facts that were provided to the reporter when interviewing City of Fargo officials. These key facts included:

• The City of Fargo processes more than 2,000 open records requests a year.

• The City of Fargo operates two TV channels that broadcast City-provided content 24/7/365, including public meetings for Fargo Public Schools and Fargo Parks.

• While The Forum correctly denotes the current number of communications department employees at 12, it failed to mention that three of those positions were transitioned from The Fargo Police Department into the communications department (they were not “added” as The Forum denoted). One of those positions was transitioned in 2021 and two were transitioned in 2022. Twenty-five percent of the unified communications team exclusively serves The Fargo Police Department.

• The members of the communications team directly serving The Fargo Police Department exchanged 5,953 emails with media members over a recent 22-month span.

• The Forum inaccurately reported the true comparable sizes of the city government communications teams in Olathe (KS), Bloomington (MN), Lincoln (NE) and Des Moines (IA). Olathe has 13 communication team members when comparing apples-to-apples to the Fargo model, Bloomington has 10, Lincoln has 11 and Des Moines has seven.

• When The Forum questioned the term “City Newsroom,” City officials explained to the reporter that many cities and businesses use this very common phrase to designate the section of its website housing its news releases. A quick search of the web supports this fact.

• The City’s public information officers rarely speak on behalf of City government. The City of Fargo has over 1,000 spokespeople and those are our City employees. The role of the communications team is to locate the experts in our City government so the most appropriate City employee speaks with the media on a given topic.

• The communications team does not only monitor the 41 social media channels listed in the article; it creates the posts, responds to questions and countless messages each day. There are nearly 300,000 followers associated with these channels.

• It is routine for communications team members to work overtime. The two leaders of the communications department have averaged 67.4 and 55.9 hours per week, respectively, for the last year. They are constantly on-call and work very hard for our community.

• The City communications team worked closely with the family of fallen Fargo Police Officer Jake Wallin to earn the trust needed to partner with WDAY/Forum to assemble and operate a set of pool cameras to allow local and regional media to live broadcast Officer Wallin’s funeral in Pequot Lakes, Minnesota.

• The City communications team fully planned the Celebration of Life for Officer Wallin at Scheels Arena in Fargo.

When the work of these dedicated professionals is questioned by the local newspaper, it is my duty as mayor to explain the challenging work they are accomplishing. I am proud to defend their efforts in consistently answering journalists’ emails, texts and phone calls well into the late evening and early morning hours on a routine basis (including The Forum). In addition, local journalists have the cellphone numbers of Fargo City Commissioners and can contact us directly – any time – there is no gatekeeping.

Unequivocally, our communications team is consistently working with all City officials every day to release as much information as quickly as possible. By providing facts and data, Team Fargo is working around-the-clock to combat disinformation regarding vital government services.