In the previous post I looked the practice of blogging and how it could improve South Africa’s political landscape and supporter-politician communication. Blogs seem like a great idea, however the idea is not without its faults.
Writing is a skill that needs to be mastered and used effectively by every blogger. A politician who cannot convey their ideas in an interesting and engaging way will not gain the necessary support base to sustain a successful blog.
South Africa has a rather contentious political climate at the moment where the public, and politicians alike, feel a great moral obligation to express their support for one a debate or the other. In such times, how leaders express themselves is of pivotal importance.
Commentary made in any blog is open to the public and there as evidence if one were to claim being misquoted. This means that any responsible leader cannot afford to make somewhat precarious statement like “we are in full support of ____ and we will kill for him if need be!”
Being open to public scrutiny, politicians run the risk of a tarnished image if they were voice statements or present policies that were unpopular. Instead of the flow of information, and communication, being a one way process from the top (political leaders) to the bottom (ordinary citizens), blogs are an open for commentary, criticism and dialogue. A blogger needs to constantly be on top of his game or they could come across as incompetent.
It was suggested that blogs could be used as a platform to present proposed policies and receive feedback from the public before having them implemented. This idea however is not half as feasible as it is idealistic. More transparency in the goings on of our parliament would be ideal, but the deliberative process is a lengthy one. With all the political red tape, getting any project off the ground takes ages. Adding another stage (deliberation with the public) could prove more detrimental than useful.
As noted by Susan Ward of About.com, another downside to blogging is that any blog needs a dedicated team to keep it constantly updated and to engage with user feedback. She says, “a blog that hasn’t been updated for a week is a bad user experience. From the blogger’s point of view, a blog can be time consuming and yet another deadline pressure.”
Any project undertaken, especially in politics, comes with a host of risks and benefits. True leaders are able to balance these out to make the right decision for their people. The South African government could be far more interactive and could make more effective use of all the services made available by various technological advancements. It would do them a great service to first find a way around these risks.