Court Of Impeachment And War Crimes: Congress Watching, Using The Blogosphere (Pelosi Plus)

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Congress Watching, Using The Blogosphere (Pelosi Plus)

Top Lawmakers Try to Turn Blogs to Their Advantage (Pelosi)

By Eric Pfeiffer, CQ Staff

The four congressional leadership offices now all employ full-time staffers who serve as liaisons to the political blogging world and help their party’s lawmakers stay in touch with the ever-growing online activist community.

Campaign and congressional offices have been testing the waters of this new medium for a few years now, but lawmakers and their staff are still learning the lessons of how bloggers and the traditional press differ.

Many have already learned the hard lessons of how bloggers can complicate things for a national figure such as Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., or even take down a once-promising politician such as former Sen. George Allen, R-Va., who saw his hopes for a presidential run dashed by the so-called Macaca video that made its viral rounds of the web. But they also are learning that bloggers and online activists can play a crucial role in promoting each party’s agenda on everything from the Iraq War to last year’s battle over child health care legislation.

The four new media staffers all say they operate largely independently of their offices’ traditional press offices. But outside bloggers do often interact with regular press secretaries and spokespersons. So, while crossover between bloggers and journalists is becoming more common, the congressional outreach online has become its own established and growing entity.

The largest such operation may be in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ’s office, where [@url Karina Newton@ ] , who has been with Mrs. Pelosi of California for seven years, serves as the Director of New Media. Along with Newton, Pelosi’s “web team” includes New Media Adviser Jesse Lee and Erica Sagrans.

“The evolution of politics on the internet has allowed people to engage, affect, analyze, discuss, applaud and dissent from their government in ways that were unimaginable 10 years ago,” Lee said.

“After decades of citizens feeling more and more detached from their government, the Internet is allowing that trend to reverse, and nowhere with more passion and brilliance than the blogosphere,” he said.

Much like a traditional congressional press shop, Newton and her web team send legislative, news and issue updates to a list of bloggers who have asked to receive the information. In fact, Newton says many bloggers are on the Speaker’s regular press lists as well.

The Speaker’s office also has hosted several “blogger alleys,” coinciding with events such as swearing in day, and the day the minimum wage increase went into effect, where bloggers can come to the Capitol to cover specific hearings or events. Lee serves as the liaison to bloggers and is the primary author of a blog, “The Gavel,” on Pelosi’s Web site.

Nick Schaper plays a similar role as New Media Adviser for House Republican Leader John A. Boehner of Ohio. (See Schaper’s Twitter page.

This Is From One Of His Friends On That Twitter Page!

"Someone might want to talk to the FBI or DOJ about this one:"

“We understand the importance of embracing technology, and all types of media including blogs, in helping to spread our message to the widest possible audience,” Schaper said.

He said his first priority is investing time reading blogs, particularly those with a conservative bent, to know what’s being discussed. Schaper said he occasionally conducts blogger outreach to other House Republican offices, organizing blogger conference calls that have included high-ranking members of Congress, including Boehner.

Of course, there can be challenges to conducting press outreach with a community that often views the methods of traditional journalism with skepticism. But there can be benefits for participating lawmakers as well.


There are damn few Congressional Sites You can get into this way….huuummm.

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