A bunch of friends have forwarded me this article, or news like it (thanks all!). From the Washington Post:
The State Department, departing from traditional public diplomacy techniques, has what it calls a three-person, “digital outreach team” posting entries in Arabic on “influential” Arabic blogs to challenge misrepresentations of the United States and promote moderate views among Islamic youths in the hopes of steering them from terrorism.
The department’s bloggers “speak the language and idiom of the region, know the culture reference points and are often able to converse informally and frankly, rather than adopt the usually more formal persona of a U.S. government spokesperson,” Duncan MacInnes, of State’s Bureau of International Information Programs, told the House Armed Services subcommittee on terrorism and unconventional threats on Thursday.
“Because blogging tends to be a very informal, chatty way of working,” MacInnes said, “it is actually very dangerous to blog.” So State has a senior experienced officer, who served in Iraq, acting as supervisor and discussing each posting before it goes up. “We do not make policy,” MacInnes added.
The State Department team’s approach is to join a blog’s conversation, often when it turns to the motivation for U.S. policy toward Iraq, and when others are claiming that the U.S. occupation is meant to help Israel or to secure oil. “Our job is to address that motivation issue and show them that that’s not the motivation,” MacInnes said.
It’s dangerous to blog??? I understand his point, but come on.
How about the State Department, rather than censoring and reviewing every blog post for consistency with department policies and goals, institute one simple blogging rule: blog at your pay grade.
Simply put, if you blog about what you know about and discuss matters related to your job at the level of your responsibility, while adhering to principles of informational security, there is no reason that blogging should be considered “dangerous.”
Perhaps it is people like MacInnes whose gloom-and-doom views of blogging are keeping it from taking stronger roots in the federal government.