Here's a TIP: Meeting With Traffic Reporters Improves Communication
Well-informed reporters are happy reporters.
[Click on photos to read captions.]
Every other month, Caltrans and the CHP face down a bunch of reporters in a room at the Traffic Management Center (TMC). There is no grilling, spinning or discomfort in this room, however, just a lot of smiling, chatting and exchanging of vital information (oh, and cookies).
These are the Transportation Information Professionals (TIP), a group that has been getting together regularly since the mid-1980s. It was formed by then-CHP Chief Ed Gomez with the cooperation of Caltrans at the request of various traffic reporters, including Commander Chuck Street of KIIS-FM, Bruce Wayne (not Batman) of KOST 103-FM and Bill Keane of KNX.
“The reporters wanted to put out accurate information and we were interested in managing how that information was disseminated,” said CHP Public Information Officer Vince Ramirez, the current TIP liaison for the agency. “The common denominator here is that all the parties get something out of it.”
Traffic reporters need information literally as soon as it happens so that they can get it out to the hundreds of thousands of motorists glued to their radios as they drive or watching TV or checking the internet before they venture out onto the road. And we need them, said District 7 Operations Deputy Frank Quon.
“We depend on traffic reporters to help us communicate with motorists, and that’s one of our most important traffic management tools,” Quon said. “The TIP meetings ensure that we know what they need in order to do their jobs as efficiently as possible.”
Ramirez said that promoting public safety is the agency’s main focus at the meetings. “But it also gives us an opportunity to be pro-active with the media.” He cited the agency’s role in helping to provide greater access to traffic cameras as an example.
District 7 Public Information Officer Patrick Chandler attends the meetings regularly to report on current projects, developments and closures. He is often joined by representatives from Districts 8 and 12. “It’s great to be able to meet the reporters and get to know them on a first name basis,” Chandler said. “We get to hear their side and they get a better understanding of what Caltrans does. And the cookies are pretty good too.”