Should people in positions of power be made to blog about what they do and what they believe?

I came across a rather interesting article today that is first and foremost about whether local councillors should have their own web presence - incidentally the up-take appears to be slow.

However, a more interesting angle develops when the writer of the article - Michael Cross - suggests the following:

"In an era when blogging is commonplace in public life, this disengagement by local democracy is an anomaly."

In other words, if so many people blog who are just as busy and probably far less accountable than their elected peers, then why can't people in positions of power get their act together and let the electorate know what they are currently up to, what their views are on certain subjects are, etc.? After all, setting a blog up is hardly rocket science, although it can at times be consuming if you don't set firm maximum levels of commitment.

I'd also extend this proposition to business leaders who may not be accountable to their employees, but they are certainly accountable to their shareholders who are typically pension fund holders.

Further details of why local counselors are slow on the up-take in an era becoming increasingly dominated by web-based communication and an example of a local counsellor who blogs on a regular basis can be found in the article itself - E-democracy: tied up in red tape.


Andrew Brown said...

Great blog yourself!

I guess the answer to your question is, in part at least, because we don't yet know that is what is expected of us.

Councillors, like most business leaders (I'd guees), are on average in their mid 50s and many are not that confident with technology as yet. So if we don't think there is any interest* we won't spend the time on this.

Many of course use the tried and tested methods of ward leaflets and public meetings to stay in touch, and at the moment that may be just as effective. But, of course, I think there are lots of benefits to blogging, in particular the development of a dialogue with our electorate.

*Much of our working experience would suggest the level of interest isn't particularly high. I make no judgement on who's responsible but turn-out at election time is roughly 30%, very few of our constituents contact us about their problems, even fewer come to our surgeries, and almost no one comes to the committee meetings we have to decide council policy and so on.

James said...

Thanks for the feedback and extra information, Andrew. I skipped over lots of detail mainly because of the line I quoted and what it made me think of.

Later I also had another idea about people in positions of power - i.e. dedicated bloggers tracking (mainly) media reports about a particular politician(s) or chief exec. The only blogs of this kind I can think of tracks corporations rather than people, i.e. Mini-Microsoft and one about Tesco.

Andrew Brown said...

There was a spate of proxy blogs for MPs started just before the last election - whether they've survived I don't know.

I also wanted to point out that there is of course Billy Hayes who blogs about being General Secretary of his union.

James said...

Thanks again Andrew. It just makes me realise how little I know about blogs!!