Sunday, October 15, 2006
Blogs give a voice to “those whose viewpoints aren’t represented in the government”
-Emily Metzgar, a doctoral student at LSU & Shreveport Times columnist
‘Bloggers’ are modern pamphleteers
By JOHN LAPLANTE
Advocate Capitol News Bureau
Louisiana’s political online elites were beside themselves last week when a minor local official asked the state Board of Ethics whether it should regulate the content of political Web sites.
In Louisiana political bloggers mostly express disgust with government’s perceived greed, crookery and incompetence.
“If you really believe in democracy, then you have to say it’s a good thing,” he (Kirby Goidel, an LSU media professor) said.
Capitol News Bureau
It was a simple request, but it created a firestorm of Internet reaction from bloggers.
“It’s been a highly public issue. Staff has received dozens of phone calls about this issue,” said chief ethics lawyer Gray Sexton.
But Sexton put it this way about the bottom line: “We don’t have jurisdiction (over blog content). We don’t regulate blogs.”
The board will take no action on the issue.
C.B. FORGOTSTON'S TAKE ON THE ARTICLE:
In his column John LaPlante explores the importance of the First Amendment and the exercise of it by those who do not have degrees in journalism or who don't work in the commercial media. It is complimentary to be compared to the "pamphleteers" of the 18th Century.
Why the agenda?
The fact that the board placed something on their agenda that was clearly not within their jurisdiction indicated the board's lack of knowledge, not ours. It was an indication to the public that the board thought it had jurisdiction.
The purpose of the LA Open Meetings Law and the posting of agenda items is to forewarn the public so that they can make their views known regarding the agenda item before a public body. That is exactly what we did. Thanks to Mr. LaPlante for hearing us.
If the Bogalusa Councilman written the Board to ask if they could regulate prostitution in LA, I seriously doubt that the item would have found its way onto the board's agenda. What the staff should have done in the instant case would have been to write or call the councilman and tell them that they had no jurisdiction over such matters. At which point, the councilman could have quietly withdrawn his request.
Allowing such an inflammatory item to appear on the agenda only served to embarrass the councilman as well as the board.
At at time when the Heh, Heh, Heh, Ethics Board is wondering why it gets no respect from the public nor public officials, this agenda item should serve as a clue.
Finally, as Henry Kissinger said: "Even a paranoid can have enemies."
MORE FROM EMILY METZGAR:
Today’s Advocate has a piece by John LaPlante concerning bloggers in Louisiana. The discussion stems from last week’s dust-up about the ethics board’s agenda item concerning possible regulation of blogs.
This morning’s article combined with other recent coverage here and here indicates that Louisiana’s online environment is not only earning more attention, but also growing in its potential to have an impact on policy and politics in the state.
LPNS COMMENTARY: Last week in an article in Editor & Publisher magazine Washington Post editor Len Downie said, "Everyone in our newsroom wants to be a blogger." And the blogs that pick apart every article that the Post produces are a good thing, said Downie, because they "keep the paper honest" and, even if their commentary isn't positive, bring people to the site. "Blogs are not competitors and not problems," he said. "Instead we have a very interesting symbiotic relationship. Our largest driver of traffic is Matt Drudge."
As former Governor Buddy Roemer used to say, "it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure it out." However, it is taking the insider politicos at the Capitol awhile to grasp the (blogger) concept. They like things just the way they are (or used to be). They can't handle the closer scrutiny, they don't like being criticized for their actions or inactions and they hate the public having access to voting records and public records. They can't control it (the new blogoshere) and if they can't control it they clearly don't want it around.
Thank God we have bright, authoritative, well-credentialed bloggers who are interested in trying to save our dysfunctional, broken state government.
At least we still have hope!