It's about time. Bloggers are indeed the new elite punditry, as much as they may despise that word, and much to the chagrin of the bowtie-clad deep-thinkers of the cocktail circuit. In the UK, the online political discussion has the potential to be especially robust, since many members of Parliament are active bloggers. Even David Miliband only gave blogging up recently (and perhaps temporarily) when Gordon Brown made him Foreign Secretary.
The COI, the UK government’s communications agency, is working on a way to monitor what people say about policy on blogs and internet forums for the media briefings it sends to ministers...
The blog project was in part prompted by departments’ concerns at being caught unawares by debates spread on the web.
It reflects the growing media profile of the format and the fact some individual bloggers are moving from niche self-publishers to establishment opinion-formers.
My "official" prediction: the government will get this outreach wrong at first. A communications office is accustomed to working with journalists and under well-recognized and accepted rules. Most bloggers - many of the best bloggers - do not consider themselves to be journalists. Don't try to fit them into specific categories.
(pssst.... hey, PM Brown: speaking of bloggers, make sure you keep track of this woman. She's not what you'd call political, but she's moving back there soon and she and her colleagues can pretty much tell you everything about blogging you need to know.)
Of course, the United States government trails significantly behind other governments when it comes to engaging the blogosphere. I think the next administration will be much better at this, no matter who is elected next year.