Governments are reaching out to engage bloggers, as they have come to realise that bloggers do wield real influence via their online presence and discussions! One agnecy invited bloggers to blog about their campaigns to ‘create an online buzz about a government-sponsored commercial on the family’.
This happened two months ago at a special session organised by global public relations firm Ogilvy. The commercial depicting a single father struggling to raise his daughter eventually aired on June 21 — with the buzz the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) had hoped for.
The session allowed the bloggers to understand ‘how and why the commercial was made’ and the bloggers’ ‘heartfelt’ reactions online gave ‘policymakers and implementers a greater feel of how people really see’ the initiatives.
Of course , it could work the other way, in that bloggers could have written negative feedback on it; but even then, that would have helped policy makers to modify the content. It’s important that such sessions have no strings attached, and that bloggers are free to write what they want, or not at all. Otherwise, the whole process could be seen as a farce, and both policy makers and bloggers would lose credibility.
The National Heritage Board is yet another agency who has been actively engaging bloggers. They have been hosting museum tours for bloggers and held a session recently for 40 bloggers at the Asian Civilisations Museum. In what it believes is a first among agencies here, the board is recruiting for an in-house “social media marketing” position, to cultivate relationships with active bloggers. Mr Walter Lim, its director of corporate communications and industry promotion said
As social media gains prominence, we do have a very high proportion of people, especially teens, who spend time online. It is critical that organisations look at how we can leverage on this growth.
Bloggers now appear to function as a “public relations arm” and the Government is recognising them as an important medium to reach the public, said Dr Linda Perry, a senior visiting fellow at the National University of Singapore’s department of Communications and New Media.
It’s a win-win situation. ‘For bloggers, what this all eventually might mean is a greater role in policy…instead of just blogging about what they see the Government doing’, they get to become active participants.
And we don’t call this age of Web 2.0 the participation age for nothing.
Of course, all these beg the question of accreditation for bloggers.
Could such participation go a step further to include news reporting? Last month, the Malaysian Government issued press passes to about 10 online news sites such as Malaysiakini, but stopped short of handing them out to bloggers since blogs are often personal in nature. Press passes would allow bloggers access to Government briefings or press conferences, for example, and the access to speak to officials at these events. Said editor of The Online Citizen Choo Zheng Xi: “It’s better to bring them in and allow them to see things from the government point of view, rather than lock them out and they criticise without understanding.” … But one concern among commentators is credibility and accuracy – bloggers, after all, would largely not have journalistic training and their writing would not be subject to the editing process of the traditional media.
Associate Professor Ang Peng Hwa of Nanyang Technological University’s communications programme: “Unless they are prepared to have themselves held accountable (for their writing), I don’t see how bloggers can equate themselves with professional media.”
Well, what do you think? Do you think that bloggers being accepted as reporters could happen now or in the near future? Do you think society is ready to accept the views of bloggers as being legitimate ones?
Read on for information on political videos and blogs and new rules for politics in cyberspace.