The Department of Homeland Security today launched a new blog called “The Blog @ Homeland Security.” For those of you who follow the Department’s current blog, Leadership Journal, you will be pleased to hear that this blog will offer a different perspective, tone and content base than Leadership Journal.
While Leadership Journal serves a solid purpose – giving voice to the leadership of DHS and the various component agencies that comprise the Department – that blog can come off as a little slow and a little canned. Posts go up maybe a couple of times a week and often read like prepared speeches or news releases. No surprise, as the posts are usually written by speech writers and press staff and must be vetted through the whole DHS bureaucracy before going live. Of course there’s a reason for this – any posting by the head of an agency is potentially a news-making or policy-setting piece of communication. Pounding out a kneejerk reaction to some biased news story or misinformed member of Congress – and hitting send without counting to ten – can result in unintended consequences. Caution, therefore, is the word. (Some Members of Congress, in the midst of their Twittermania, might consider a little such caution.)
That said, too much caution can defeat the purpose of a blog, which is meant to be a lively site of dialogue and two-way communication. Speaking at your audience doesn’t really inspire such dialogue. Nor does it inspire a sense of openness and public accountability among readers. Transparency is also the word. Particularly in the Obama Administration, which has launched a valiant (if not always successful) effort to adopt new media tools in the service of Government 2.0.
It remains to be seen how responsive and interactive DHS’s new blog will be. For a particularly good example of a responsive and transparent government blog, check out the Transportation Security Administration’s blog. (Formerly known as the “Evolution of Security” blog, it has been rebranded with the more mundane but unquestionably more, er, practical, title of “TSA Blog.”) However, the DHS press shop has promised that “TheBlog @ Homeland Security” will be more dynamic, with far more frequent postings. “The idea is to provide a different look at the department and provide more access and transparency by making the day-to-day activities at DHS more visible,” says one of the press staffers responsible for maintaining the blog. “The Blog will have a range of regular content features including the Daily News Roundup and various reports from the field, as well as photos, videos, cross-postings, and an open comment policy for dialogue beneath each post.”
Making good on their word, the folks at DHS have already posted two new posts today, having only launched the new blog late this afternoon. An encouraging sign. So go check it out!