Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.
PROVO, Utah (AP) -- Utah lawmakers are using Internet blogs to talk daily with voters about everything from Scout camp and birthdays to state and federal laws.
"The democratizing potential of this technology is the best thing to come along in 20, 30 years," said Rep. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George. "The people have largely been shut out (of politics). This is an open invitation to the public to participate."
Blogs, or Web logs, are online diaries where people post information about news, events, or their personal lives. Readers can also post comment to blog entries.
"The technology's to the point that even the most technologically-illiterate can manage," said Rep. John Dougall, R-Highland, an active blogger.
Urquhart and Dougall make almost daily blog postings. Dougall said his participation began as a means of communicating with members of his district and sometimes makes multiple posting each day.
"I think we're hitting a point where voters want more and more information," he said.
House Majority Leader Rep. Jeff Alexander, R-Provo, also posts. He says a blog set up specifically for posts from House leadership hasn't gone as planned. Alexander hopes to expand the access so all House Republicans can post.
Utah lawmakers aren't the only ones in the nation using blogs. Politicians and political groups around the country use the web tool.
A 2004 Pew Internet & American Life project survey showed that one in 10 Internet users read political blogs during the 2004 elections.
Speaking at a recent national Council of State Governments convention, Urquhart said blogs are similar to town meetings and constituent mailings, but more effective.
Blogging is also cheaper, but Alexander said the medium should never replace face-to-face meetings.
Urquhart thinks blogging will become an expected form of constituent communications over the next 10 or 15 years. But Dougall believes some may be reluctant to begin the practice and fear that the blog might create a record of thoughts or opinions that could hurt them at the polls.
"The thing you have to remember is what you publish in a blog pretty much becomes a permanent record," Dougall said.
(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)