|January 31, 2008|
|Federal Government is a Blogging Phenomenon|
|By Greg Hazley|
|This may be in the category of “Asking for it,” but we tip our hat to the Transportation Security Administration for launching a blog yesterday to explain itself, its policies and solicit feedback from air travelers.|
We can’t think of a less desirable customer base to deal with than air travelers these days, so opening up a corner of government cyberspace to let people speak their minds amid delays, invasive security checks and general rancor was a gutsy move.
More than 700 people have commented in the 24 hours since the “Evolution of Security” blog launched, a huge swarm of feedback for any blog, let alone a government publication.
An Associated Press-Ipsos poll last month found that only the Federal Emergency Management Agency ranked below the TSA (which tied with the IRS) among the least-liked federal agencies. Ouch.
Credit is due to the TSA for acknowledging the initial response (and vitriol) to its blog, even going so far as to consider changes and suggestions fostered by readers. The blog team at TSA even said it would reveal how many comments were blocked for reasons like obscene language, political rants and off-topic ramblings.
As the blog notes, two million travelers encounter the TSA each day. “It is an intense experience all around -- extremely personal in some senses but also impersonal at the same time,” wrote TSA Administrator Kip Hawley.
One of my major goals of 2008 is to get TSA and passengers back on the same side, working together. We need your help to get the checkpoint to be a better environment for us to do our security job and for you to get through quickly and onto your flight. Seems like the way to get that going is for us to open up and hear your feedback...
TSA’s blog team includes staffers from the Midwest and East coast. And yes, there is a PR staffer – “Jim,” who says he works in TSA’s office of strategic communications and public affairs.
Hawley noted that “feedback and venting” from the public ends up circulating among passengers on the move with little chance or time for the TSA to engage in a real dialog.
If TSA is serious about using its blog as a two-way conversation and not a propaganda piece for its policies, it’s off to a good start.
FEMA, the blogosphere awaits.
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