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Government Blogging

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Government Blogging

Article excerpt

Blogs can be cranky with names such as Crooks and Liars and Savage Chickens. So I was a bit perplexed the first time I heard the phrase "corporate blogging." Those two concepts initially seemed at odds--the institutionalized corporation using the platform of the idiosyncratic individual--but corporate blogging is now commonplace. It is not so revolutionary, after all, to think that corporations would want to use the popular blog format to connect with customers, get quick feedback, and build "communities."

Blogs have come a long way in the past decade. The online journals began as accessible, affordable platforms for individuals with a unique voice to be heard. One person with an internet connection could build his or her own global niche audience or--in less commercial and hierarchical terminology--"community." Blogs now vary greatly in tenor and type but are usually still seen as places for personal expression, first impressions, rough reporting, irreverence, and open debate.

Nor is it too much more of a stretch to understand why government agencies and officials might want to blog. People read blogs, and communicators want to be where the people are. Governments have long communicated via the town hall meeting, the government document, the radio broadcast "fireside chat," the press release, the public service announcement, the radio talk show appearance, and diverse other channels. The community of citizens has a continuing interest in government communications when government actions affect our lives and livelihoods. Naturally, the blog had to become a mainstream form of communication before ever cautious governments would inch into the blogosphere. The casual tone and open comment format of blogs give governments plenty to fear at first glance. An excellent blog on government blogging, Municipalist.com, even has "fear" as one of its subject tags. But governments seem to have declared the "blogosphere" safe, if still a little scary. In June 2007, the IBM Center for Business and Government [http://www.businessofgovernment.org] issued a report by David C. Wyld entitled "The Blogging Revolution: Government in the Age of Web 2.0" [http://www.businessofgovernment.org/pdfs/WyldReportBlog.pdf]. The Wyld report provides a gentle introduction to blogging for government managers, including examples from the corporate blog pioneers that preceded them. The report carries sections such as "10 Tips for Blogging by Public Sector Executives." Late 2007 and early 2008 saw the release of new blogs from the General Services Administration, the Health and Human Services Department, the Library of Congress, the National Agricultural Library, the State Department, and the Transportation Security Agency, among other U.S. federal agencies.

Blogs for Concerned Citizens

The following profiles of selected U.S. federal blogs demonstrate the range of choices agencies have made in adopting the blog. Each profile ends with a statement of the value I find in the blog.

Chasing Down More Government Blogs

The blogs described here are all products of federal government agencies. Many members of Congress also maintain blogs as part of their websites on House.gov and Senate.gov. Agency personnel and elected officeholders at the state and local level blog as well. Blogs appear, disappear, or go stale on a regular basis; many prepared lists of government blogs can't keep up with the changes. The resources below can point you to examples of agency or elected official blogs, but they may not be current or complete.

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USA.gov http://www.usa.gov/Topics/Reference_Shelf/News/blog.shtml

Provides a list of active and inactive government blogs.

Webcontent.gov http://www.usa.gov/webcontent/technology/blogs.shtml

Provides guidance for government blogging and links to examples.

Municipalist http://www.municipalist.com

A blog about public sector blogging, regularly reviews government blogs at all levels of government. …

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