Sunday, November 27, 2005

Don't be disintermediated; become a blogger

The Union's editor Pat Butler recently described a problem the paper's having with an official who won't talk:
...A person who was appointed to fill an elected official's position insists that all questions be submitted in writing or that person refuses to talk to the media. We, of course, like to do live interviews so we can do follow-up questions and then quickly write our stories... What do you think?...

In comments, a pair of anonymice believed the official should be 'shamed' into talking to the paper, and Russ and I said s/he could have valid concerns about being misrepresented.

The win-win solution, of course, is for said official to get a weblog, get the paper to commit to printing its URL, and use the blog to explain any comments or misquotes at length. And then keep on using it, to inform readers as to what's going on; when you blog, you control whether your positions can be found online, vs helplessly watching them creep behind a "registration-required" wall or - for whatever reason - not get posted at all.

Cost:
None; a blog on blogspot.com is free.

Inconvenience:
None; I'd be happy to create the blog and get you started.

Example:
Greensboro city council member Sandy Carmany.

Effect:
A constituent's view of Carmany:
Politicians are famous for being these distant, vague figures who supposedly represent the rest of us.

But most of us don't really ever get to know these public servants as fellow human beings.

Carmany has removed the curtain and provided us a glimpse at the wizard. ...

Value to populace:
Allen Johnson, editorial page editor for the News and Record, calls out by name other Greensboro public officials and figures who ought to be be blogging, and, for each, explains why. Take a look, and apply to Nevada County.


So? Get in touch; email's on the sidebar, I'm in the phone book, or you can leave a comment below.

2 comments:

Sherry said...

Having had personal experience with John Doolittle I can TELL YOU WHY he won't be blogging anytime soon--ESPECIALLY not where anyone might be allowed to comment---dialogue on any level. I think his rationale would fit MOST POLITICIANS, probably because MOST POLITICIANS have to lie. If they do it to too many in one outing, will have their feet held to the fire on it later IF IT'S BEEN MADE A MATTER OF RECORD. Besides, we all know blogging and what's LEFT ON SITE is determined by the site master. What kind of discretion, (REMOVING OF POSTS), might we really witness and as Mr. D.'s aide runs interference at the site? A "reality check"? Probably not.

Anna said...

Hi Sherry, thanks for your comment.

(but keep in mind, this post wasn't in reference to Doolittle. And I don't know if blogging would scale, to work well for someone with that many constituents, especially displeased ones.)

Sure, most public officials will be afraid to have a real blog, since the outcome's not under their control.
And any blogger with influence will attract trolls.
(note absence of trolls here)

But if you're an intelligent, honest, well-meaning public servant with good written-expression skills, what better way to get that across - and to differentiate yourself from the rest - than by blogging? The trolls do expose their own nature (For ex. see one of John Robinson's in action here), and your reasonableness by comparison says much.

And you can speak directly to your public.

And if you're the only one blogging, how are your enemies going to attack you? "Look at what she said"? in response, you point to all the rest who are afraid to say anything...

> Besides, we all know blogging and what's LEFT ON SITE is determined by the site master.

Yes, but an attentive reader can see, and document, whether contrary opinions got removed, which can be extremely revealing.