Category Archives: blogging

Poetry in Posting

It’s not because she’s young.

It’s not that she’s seriously ill

It’s not that I don’t know what it is that’s made her helpless.

It’s not that the only reason that she is standing is because her husband is struggling to hold her up.

It’s not when she goes into a seizure and becomes incontinent.

It’s not me being covered in her urine as I help her husband lower her to the floor on the crowded landing.

It’s not the possibility that she could die from this illness or be permanently disabled.

It’s not the way she looks at me with utter terror in her eyes.

None of those things kept me awake tonight.

It’s the sound of her four young children behind me, wailing in fear as they realise that their mother isn’t playing a game.

Tom Reynolds blogs at Random Acts of Reality.  He writes authoritatively and authentically about life as an Emergency Medical Technician (Ambulance paramedic type).  Today’s post goes straight for the tear ducts.

Why leaders should blog – part 3

Last week I was at the Science Museum where I met Tom Reynolds who blogs at Random Acts of RealityJeremy Gould (Whitehall Webby) was also there are had posted some very good notes which I hope he doesn’t mind me reposting here:

  • Bloggers are enthusiasts who care about their jobs and do it in their own time because they have a genuine desire to improve the organisations they work for.
  • Individuals are generally considered to be more trustworthy than faceless organisations and readers of blogs invest in the writers. The personal neature of the relationships that develop as a result of this bypass the corporate PR ‘filter’.
  • The value of blogging about your job for the public is that Individuals can tell great stories that humanise faceless organisations (who shouldn’t worry about bloggers on their workforce, their passion for the job is itself generally enough to prevent them saying things that would bring the organisation into disrepute).
  • The value of blogging about your job for the organisation is that they can find out way more about what employees think than annual staff surveys (Tom told an excellent anecdote about ambulance workers whinging on an unofficial forum a few years back during a heatwave about not having time to stop to buy drinks when on shift. Two days later the management delivered pallets of bottles of water to the depot. The impact on staff morale was immediate because management had listened, and demonstrated that they had listened).
  • The value to an organisation of senior managers blogging is that they can easily and quickly debunk rumours from the top of the organisation right to the bottom without layers of chinese whispers.
  • Work blogging is the ultimate in transparency and openness, it needs to be embraced by more organisations. Bloggers are the best advocates and advertisements for their employers. They are evangelisers for their employers. Their reputation is their currency and bloggers will generally fact check each other.

Ex-Minister Tom Harris on blogging

Caricature of Tom Harris MP
Tom Harris MP

Tom Harris until very recently was the Rail Minister at the Department for Transport.  He was and is also one the most engaging political bloggers currently writing.  His style is informal and personal, yet he manages to be very political and informative about the workings of government.

He wrote an article about getting sacked as a minister and addressed the obvious question of whether his blog had contributed to it.  He isn’t exactly unequivocal, but interestingly uses his blog to point the finger subtlely at what he believes is the real reason.  Surprisingly out of the 27 comments so far only one person picked up on it, but the support for his blog is unsurprisingly unanimous.

Blog Action Day – October 15th

One week until Blog Action Day, the day in the year where bloggers are encouraged to post about a specific subject.  This year the theme is poverty.

The Blog Action Day site helpfully gives some examples of what various types of blog might post about.  Strangely enough it doesn’t mention Civic Leader blogs so here is some advice for blogging councillors about what to write on Blog Action Day – Poverty.

  1. Highlight the work that has been done /needs to be done to alleviate poverty in your area.  Even the richest boroughs of London such as Kensington and Chelsea have very deprived areas.  The ranking of neighbourhoods on the DCLG Deprivation indices varies from the 1390th most deprived neighbourhood to the 32440th (out of 32,482).  I’m told the difference in life expectancy between parts of K&C vary by ten years.
  2. Tell a story of local residents who have escaped poverty.  The Big Issue introduce some of their vendors. Write about someone local to you.
  3. Write about and link to a charity you support that helps people in poverty either in the UK or abroad
  4. Write about work you do as a school governor or member of council to help school help children from poor households
  5. Write about your experience working with people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

You’ll have your ideas so please register at the Blog Action Day site and use your blog to help highlight what can be done about poverty.

CivicSurf bearing fruit

A few weeks ago we sent out the CivicSurf DVD’s and booklets to the CEO’s of Local Authorities around the UK. We quickly heard through Twitter and email that they had arrived but this morning came the first real evidence of the benefit of the project.

Andy Heath, from Wyre Borough Council in Lancashire, let us know that two of their councillors had started blogs as a direct result of the CivicSurf project.

So please say hello to Cllr Julie Newsham and to Cllr Mike Sanderson.

Council leader reprimanded for blog

The leader of Hounslow Council has had his knuckles rapped for linking his council blog to a political site.

Councillor Peter Thompson has been officially reprimanded by the national Standards’ Committee for the content of his blog on May 19, which it considered a breach of the members’ code of conduct as the website was used in a way that could be interpreted as political.


Apart from this looking like a political spat the story highlights the benefits of councillors setting up their own blogs and not relying on council provided sites for communicating with their constituents.  It can’t be easy to be a local politician without be political.  As Cllr Mary Reid says in the CivicSurf video (at 0:19 secs):

“I want a space where I can be what I am, a politician…”

(h/t Ian Cuddy from PSF)

Libel and Defamation Law for Bloggers

Royal Courts of JusticeIt’s an area all bloggers would rather not get involved in, but it is best to be aware of the principles of libel and how it applies to you as a blogger.  Mike Butcher, has written a very useful and informative guide to Libel and Defamation Law for bloggers.  Read it and bookmark it.

Councillors should of course pay equal attention to the Standards Board Code of Conduct and your own council’s code of conduct.  ICELE produced some useful guidance which you can download.

Council officers might also refer to the Civil Servant social media guidelines recently published by the Cabinet Office.  They are succinct but useful.

Guide to using Social Media – for Civil Servants

The Cabinet Office released “Participation online Guidance for civil servants” today. It has been some time in gestation but the really good news is that it is only one page long. In fact the guidance has been boiled down to 5 main points and a paragraph on how it relates to the Civil Service Code.

In summary,

1. Be credible
2. Be consistent
3. Be responsive
4. Be integrated

5. Be a civil servant

The Power of Information Taskforce (don’t ask who they might be) is looking for feedback. I hope they pick it up from here.

It is good excellent.

And others think so too.

Cross-posted from