Lawmakers turning to blogs

Special
Erick Erickson, in his Macon office, co-founded the Republican blog Red State and most recently, Peach Pundit.

ATLANTA - What began as a way to sound off online about an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend has turned into a political tool.

 

To reach constituents during the General Assembly, both Republicans and Democrats are turning to blogs.

But is anyone tuning in?

Rep. Doug McKillip, D-Athens, started blogging during his campaign last year in an effort to communicate with the young and technologically savvy.

He said he started the Web site to make his views more accessible and increase his interaction with the public.

Mr. McKillip's blog is hardly controversial, with little more than procedural details posted. He said the upcoming discussion of Sunday alcohol sales could draw some heavy feedback.

If he expects a wide audience, however, he may be disappointed. Barry Hollander, a professor in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia, has conducted extensive research on blogs and said that participation in political blogs is limited.

"They tend to only be read by the political junkies," he said. "For many, American Idol is their news."

However, blogs are still useful for politicians because the posted information seems to reach influential people, such as lobbyists, he said.

Erick Erickson, a lawyer from Macon, launched an independent political blog in 2005. PeachPundit.com has about 500 individual accounts and receives more than 3,000 unique visitors a day, Mr. Erickson said.

Although he acknowledged that the majority of posting was by those concerned with politics, he said the site attracted the attention of people across the state.

"A lot of people don't get involved until an issue affects them," he said. "But when that happens, they start posting away."

He pointed to a September incident in which new state license plates were revealed. More than 90 comments were posted on the Web site, most against the proposed blue plates.

Gov. Sonny Perdue later removed the mandatory status from the plates, which Mr. Erickson attributed to feedback from the blogging community.

Reach Brian Hughes at (404) 589-8424 or mnews@morris.com.

LEGISLATORS WITH BLOGS

- Sen. David Adelman, D-Decatur www.davidadelman.info

- Rep. Steve Davis, R-McDonough www.steve-davis.org/blog

- Rep. Doug McKillip, D-Athens dougmckillip.blogspot.com

- Sen. David Shafer, R-Duluth www.davidshafer.org