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April 24, 2003
Labour Councillor for Middleton
Launched: April 24, 2003
Format: Blogger.com, then 20Six (personalised template)
From April 24 to July 08 2003, Stuart ran his weblog on a standard Blogger.com format from http://middletonpark.blogspot.com/, but on 08 July 2003, he moved to the third-party blog host and provider 20six.
He also runs personal/professional blog (primarily on the subject of public relations) at http://www.20six.co.uk/stuartbruce/
In 2004, he was a runner-up in The Guardian Political Weblog Awards.
In my opinion, Stuart really needs his own domain name directly tied to the site and individual posts (right now www.middletonpark.info redirects to his blog, but it's just not the same). He's now reached a position where the reputation of his current (blog) URL earns him good search results for the information he wants seen... and he risks sacrificing that performance (at least for a short while) if he moves.
Stuart is a keen proponent of the intelligent use of weblogs by elected officials and has this to say on the subject (from a post worth reading in full; do click if you have a moment):
I feel very strongly that politicians who don't blog are failing their constituents. Let's look at some of the facts:
Well over half of the UK population has internet access at home, those that don't nearly always have access at the local public library or their workplace.
Politicians have a duty to engage with their electorate and keep in touch. Traditionally we have done this by attending community meetings, holding advice surgeries, delivering leaflets and newsletters.
The internet is simply another channel for us to use. But it has some significant benefits. The cost (in both time and real money) is far less than the other channels mentioned.
In today's busy society fewer and fewer people have time to attend meetings in drafty community centres or church halls. The people who attend are frequently the same ones every time.
Leaflets require (even with DTP software) a reasonably high level of skill and time to produce. And then the local political party needs money to print them, and volunteers to distribute them. To get the money you need to fund raise from members and supporters. More time and more work.
Contrast this to a blog which can be set up in less than 10 minutes. Creating entries is very easy and can even be sent by email or text message. It helps if you're a good writer, but if you're simply reporting what you've been doing on your electorate's behalf then you don't need to be Shakespeare.
So for very little time and no cash cost you can potentially reach more than half of your electorate. OK, to actually make the blog work properly then you do need to be a bit more proactive and let your constituents know about it. You'll probably need to use traditional communications channels to do this such as promoting the URL in leaflets, newsletters, email signatures, letterheads, business cards, surgery advice posters etc.
The blog doesn't replace traditional communications channels but is an essential part of the mix. To ignore the internet as a channel is every bit as bad as failing to do advice surgeries, attend community meetings, or publish newsletters and leaflets.
Given how easy and low cost it is, there really is no excuse not to blog.
Posted by timireland on April 24, 2003 11:03 AM in the category Blogs: Councillors (Labour)
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