Inter-organizational digital divide: Civic groups' media strategies in the Trinity River Corridor Project

volunteers went door-to-door to discuss local environmental issues they also informed the
public about TrinityVote's position on Proposition One. They contributed during the early stages
of the campaign by collecting signatures in order to have the referendum placed on the ballot.
During the vote, approximately ten volunteers from Texas Campaign for the Environment
camped outside of polling stations to promote TrinityVote's anti-toll road position on
Proposition One. Texas Campaign for the Environment did not use old media at all, as their main
role in the toll road campaign was to provide TrinityVote with manpower. Although Texas
Campaign for the Environment had an active Web site, they did not post anything on their site
about TrinityVote. And though Texas Campaign for the Environment has Facebook and Twitter
accounts, these social media tactics were not used. A message board independently organized by
TCE's Brendan Helms allowed people to post comments about the Project and sign up to
volunteer for TrinityVote's campaign.
The major supporters of VNST included the Dallas Citizens Council (DCC), Trinity Trust
Foundation (TTF), Trinity Commons Foundation (TCF), and Save the Trinity. The Dallas
Citizens Council represents Dallas's most prominent businesses. The group donated
US$300,000, the largest single donation. The DCC is a coalition of CEOs from about 120
companies that focuses on five to seven major issues. These CEOs serve on City Council boards,
lobby lawmakers, and engage in public relations campaigns. Dallas Citizens Council depended
on mailed newsletters, rather than e-mail messages, to update members.
Another major group that supported VNST was the Trinity Trust Foundation (TTF,
http://www.thetrinitytrust.org/). The TTF's main objective is to raise private funds for the Trinity
River Corridor Project's various amenities, including a whitewater rafting course, ball fields, and
pedestrian bridges. For example, the group received an anonymous US$10 million donation to
convert a bridge over Continental Avenue into a pedestrian-only bridge. Although the TTF did
not donate to VNST, when the election results showed that VNST had prevailed, the TTF hosted
an event to celebrate the victory (Levinthal, 2007e). Attendees included members of the Dallas
Citizen's Council. Employees of the Trinity Trust Foundation independently posted TRCP-
related information on Twitter, and the organization has a Facebook fan page as well as a
LinkedIn account. TTF's Facebook page informs followers about events coming up related to the
TRCP. The group's outreach coordinator Tierney Kaufman explained, 'I have just bought a Flip
camcorder so that we can do small videos to put on the Web site and on YouTube' (interview
with second author, 25 January 2010).
Another organization that contributed to the success of VNST's campaign was the Trinity
Commons Foundation (TCF, http://www.trinitvcommonsfoundation.org/), whose director was
involved on several fronts. A non-profit grassroots organization, the TCF holds periodic public
meetings to communicate with interested parties about the Trinity River Corridor Project. Unlike
the Trinity Trust Foundation, the Trinity Commons Foundation took an official public position
on Proposition One. The boards of both the TTF and TCF included individuals who supported
the toll road, including the TCF's executive director Craig Holcomb, a former Dallas City
Council member. The TCF organized a petition drive to oppose Proposition One that resulted in
over US$44,000 in political contributions to the Vote No! Save the Trinity campaign. The
Trinity Commons Foundation engaged in intense lobbying of Dallas politicians regarding
Proposition One. Leaders of the other groups would not comment on their lobbying activities.

Ignatow, Gabriel & Schuett, Jessica Lynn. Inter-organizational digital divide: Civic groups' media strategies in the Trinity River Corridor Project. [Chicago, Illinois]. UNT Digital Library. http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc78305/. Accessed September 19, 2014.