Monday, October 22, 2007

blogs reach up in government, ed boards

Blogging at the top's the province of a few CEOs and university presidents, but recently, Cabinet secretaries and even the New York Times editorial board have gotten into the act.

In the federal government, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff's using his blog as many businesses do, to respond to articles and op-eds, report on speeches and highlight work of the agency; two other DHS officials also contribute to the "Leadership Journal." Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt blogs on current health legislation in Washington, but also on a University of Utah winner of this year's Nobel Prize in Medicine (Leavitt is former governor of Utah). He's vowed to write his own posts, and includes an evaluation after one month, based on reader comments ("My postings tend to be too long").

Two more government blogs -- GovGab from the General Services Administration, and DipNote at the Department of State -- take a group approach, with several career government specialists posting. GovGab focuses on consumer information you can get from the government, while DipNote -- slammed by many bloggers for its name alone -- also includes questions of debate and personal insights from career foreign service diplomats. Comments are accepted on all these government blogs, and while the pace of posting needs to increase, it's clear the government's decided to blog. (Many citizens' comments revolve around "aren't you busy? when do you have time to do this?")

At the Times, the editorial board retains its anonymity, signing most every post "The Editorial Board," though some signed posts are promised in this introduction to the blog. It takes some unusual steps, like this call to readers to lobby members of the House of Representatives who voted "no" the first time around on the State Children's Health Insurance Program, or S-CHIP--going so far as to publish the list of "naysayers" (a rather long list for a blog post) to help readers find their representative's vote the day before another vote was scheduled. That's part of the "raw material" the board promises to include, along with updates on visitors to the editorial board, more commentary on issues of the day, and personal perspectives. For ed-board-watchers, it's a useful learning tool and an easy way to gain insights on how to approach the board.

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