Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: email@example.com
How many governors currently have blogs? The same number that communicate through smoke signals, homing pigeons and telepathy (so far as I know). Zero.
Here's a quick rundown of the so-called blogs on governors' sites:
* Delaware's Ruth Ann Minner started a blog last May. Her first post concluded, "I hope you will continue to check back for my weekly entries." She kept that schedule for one week. Now she hasn't posted anything since December, which means the blog is dead.
* So far as I can tell, there aren't any other governors with blogs of their own that are anywhere close to active (RIP Phil blog, 2005-2005), although a couple have staff blogs. Members of Arnold Schwarzenegger's staff write entries that sound like press releases and post videos where they appear to be reading from scripts. In the past year, Arnold has only posted once.
* Kathleen Blanco also has one, although, in spite of the bylines and author photos, every entry could have been written by a PR person (otherwise, wouldn't there be personal anecdotes and unique writing styles?). Blanco hasn't ever posted.
That's it -- which raises two questions to me: Why aren't governors and/or their staffs blogging? And, should they be?
The wrong answer to question #1 is that they don't have time. Sure, governors and their staffs are busy, but that doesn't stop them from producing weekly columns, radio addresses, podcasts, videos and e-mail updates.
Far, far more often than not, however, all of those forms of communication end up sounding like regurgitated press releases, just like the Schwarzenegger and Blanco staff blogs. As long as governors are intent on banishing all personality, humor, wit and creativity from their communications, there's not much point to having blogs. Most realize that, which is why they don't have them.
That's a safe decision (we in the media are happy to create a firestorm out of any off-the-cuff remark), but it also represents a missed opportunity. Technology gives today's public officials an unprecedented ability to bypass the media's filter and communicate directly with constituents, be it through blogs, e-mails, podcasts, etc. The trouble is that governors have failed to create much of anything that anyone wants to read, hear or see.
Written and compiled by staff writers and editors, GOVERNING View is an on-the-ground, and sometimes behind-the-scenes, look at the topics we're covering in print and online. From notes on what's up in statehouses, county courthouses and city halls, to encounters with people, places and things, GOVERNING View is a window into the side of state and local government you don't always see.