Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Caring about the work -- 1) thinking as we write or vote

By Carol Gee

Senators and House Members are doing a lousy job these days. U.S. public opinion polls rate them as failures. Perhaps legislators could learn something from how successful bloggers work. What these writers think and write, and how well they listen is key to their credibility.

Good blog posts have interest and variety. The pieces are sometimes like newspaper stories or Op-ed pieces. Posts can be similar to mini- essays. Or the writing might resemble entries in a personal journal or diary. Our words must draw our readers to look further. Our regular readers become familiar with our style. They come back to hear our unique voices. For new readers, we also need to be recognizable; the audience must be able to identify with us in some small way.

Today, these examples of differing forms of blog writing interested me. I bulleted two versions of the same Congress story, opening with the straight news source. The news items were chosen to illustrate that:

  1. Congress does not do so well when there is too much compromise, resulting in watered-down bills.
  2. Congress rarely succeeds against the Bush veto.
  3. Democrats never united around the war in Iraq.
  4. Senators' presidential aspirations inevitably color their legislating efforts.

The second parts in each bullet are blog posts on the same subject, that were good and not so good and why.

  • News -- Senate Water Projects bill -- On Deadline -- by Michael Winter. Four short and well-written paragraphs on $23 billion proposed to spend.
  • Op-ed -- Bush eager for budget showdown -- ArgMax -- by John Irons. Short and tight - compare and contrast - of the true values of our current president (OCP) as he fights with Congress.
  • Mini-essay -- Democrats fail to pass anti-war bill -- Open Left -- by Paul Rosenberg. This is an example of why I lose readers when I get too long winded and elaborate - a long essay, rather than a mini.
  • Journal -- A Clinton-Bayh ticket for 2008 -- Mainstream Iowan -- a family blog. This is an example of why I lose readers when I do not follow the normal practices of citation, blockquotes, etc. We cannot easily determine authorship. I wanted to know more of what the blogger thought, as if it were a journal entry.
Good legislators care about their work just as good bloggers do. They must care a great deal in order to tolerate all that goes with a life in politics. If they thought more before making speeches or voting , their legislative decisions would enable voters to care a whole lot more about their work as law-makers.

My links: My "creativity and dreaming" post today at Making Good Mondays is about traveling in space.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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