Can Blogs Influence Decisionmakers?

A forum to discuss the influence of blogs on
decisionmakers will be held in Washington, D.C. on April 24.

Christine Gorman asks, “Do blogs influence people in high places?” Christine writes the Global Health Blog and the Health Media Watch blog. She’s speaking at a forum on April 24 at the National Press Club giving attention to the strategic value of blogs in shaping public policy.

Christine wrote about health and medical topics for twenty years at TIME and estabished the TIME Global Health Blog two years ago. Her perspective from inside a major publication gives her an interesting vantage point to view how new media are influencing mainstream media, especially mass audience publcations.

How influential are blogs? It’s an open question and no doubt a range of factors go into answering it. I’ve been surprised to receive comments in face-to-face conversations that refer to entries in this blog, primarily because I don’t try to market it heavily and I write it as a personal enterprise, as opposed to a function of my work. And I’m even more surprised when someone writes from Africa, Asia or Europe. But this happens as well.

I often talk with staff about bloggers and how to incorporate blogs into the work we do to disseminate information or stimulate conversation. We take bloggers seriously. But I think the individual, personal side of blogging doesn’t necessarily lead directly to influencing public policy. Reflecting on personal experiences and voicing one’s opinions, as most bloggers do, doesn’t result in policy suggestions. And most of the bloggers I know in the religious community make it clear their blogs represent personal opinions, not the positions of the congregation or other entities in which they work. That’s a delicate balance.

Moreover, the solitary blogger, even one connected to a larger community, does not sustain a movement agenda without considerable effort. I read advocacy blogs and I’m impressed by those that make the link between individual action and systemic change. It’s difficult.

I’ve come across information in blogs that led me to act. And I’ve been part of blogging coupled with public events to inform groups of people and give them an avenue for action. I was pleased with the blog posts Elizabeth McKee of the United Nations Foundation wrote from Angola and Nigeria updating the visit of a team observing bed net distribution. I passed those posts along, as did many others, and the result was financial support for Nothing But Nets. So, I know that blogs work under the right circumstances.

I’m glad conversations are occurring that explore this question in more depth. As blogging matures we need to keep the medium under review. It’s a valuable tool and we need to continue to examine how we’re using it, how to make better use of it, and how to become better bloggers.

Join the conversation!

Post a reply in the form below.

Leave a Reply:

Gravatar Image