Monday, May 24, 2004

Do We Really Need Blogging Congressmen?

I disagree with Jeff Jarvis's thinking that our politicians should be bloggers. He refers to a panel discussion with Rep. Andrew Weiner in which he tried to convince the New York democrat that he needs to blog.

Here's the thing: Weiner *doesn't* need to blog. He just needs to do his dern job as a state representative. If he wants to include blogging in his bag of tricks, fine--might be useful for him to consult a few blogs on a weekly basis. To write a blog? Probably not good use of his limited time, though it might be good PR. Might do wonders to humanize him. For the one in a zillion folks who read his blog.

But as a State Representative, he doesn't need to blog anymore than a CEO or Senator or the President needs to.

It's a potentially effective form of communication, sure, but, well, every problem isn't a nail and the solution isn't always a hammer. By way of comparison, poll 100 CEOs and ask how many of them use email. The higher up the food chain, the bigger the company, I’m betting, the less you’ll find they use it. (Or ask how many have a blog if you think that's an apples and oranges comparison--I'm just using another tool for the sake of illustration.) Clinton sent out--what did we recently hear?--two emails his whole time in office? Bush hasn't likely sent out too many more. Certainly not as many as I do in a day. Why? Because it's not an effective means of communication for the President.

Presidents, Senators, State Reps--they shake hands, kiss babies, sit through meetings and have other folks type up the minutes, memos and speeches. They listen to the needs of the people (ideally). They work on some decent legislation together (if we’re lucky). That's their job. So don't expect El Presidente to start up a blog any time soon either. Neither should he.

I'm not arguing that a blog couldn't be an effective means of communication for a State Rep. Just that in the hierarchy of tools at his or her disposal, it's not likely an effective use of time and energy.

Now, should his communications team have a blog? Couldn’t hurt. But you know what that’s gonna be: carefully worded, flowery glowing reviews of everything the politician does. It’s gonna be a psuedo-blog (Depending on your definition, I guess). Train them to do otherwise? Good luck! These are politicians we’re dealing with!

So to Jarvis's point about transparency, maybe what these guys *really* need is an ombudsman.

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