Why Carl Bildt is blogging

For a long time, I’ve been amazed by the Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt and his blogging capacity. He has been the leading star of the political blogosphere I follow, and I wished more politicians could follow his example. But how does he do it, is something I’ve been thinking. How does he find time to write his updates, in his very hectic schedule? And why is blogging so important for him? A long time ago, I wrote about pros and cons for blogging CEOs.

Last week, I got a good opportunity to find out more about Bildt’s blogging habits. You see, I got interviewed by Ida Jevne at the radio program Kurer, NRK P2 (Norwegian Broadcasting), and she asked me about how politicians should relate to social/digital media, based on an article I wrote for Dagbladet. As I wanted to hear from the source itself, I contacted Bildt’s press secretary, and here are the answers I got from Bildt regarding his blogging habits (in Norwegian and Swedish – if I get time and if you are interested, I will translate it into English). Something that struck me, is that Bildt and his staff is actually reading through the readers’ comments- that is what I call political dialog and interaction! I just wished he could say a little bit more about which political cases the blog actually had an impact:

-Hvordan får du tid til å blogge?

Jag tar mig tid. Ofta blir det på morgonen och på kvällen – undantagsvis också mitt på dagen om det skulle bli en paus och det finns en möjlighet att koppla upp sig.

-Hvor blogger du?

Där jag finns just då.

-Hvorfor er det viktig for deg å ha en blogg?

Det är ett sätt att informera om vad jag gör – och ibland har jag dessutom behållning av de olika kommentarer som kommer in. Med media allt mer snåla i sin bevakning av allt som inte tillhör det allra viktigaste tror jag att det finns ett behov av kommunikationsformer som denna.

-Får du eller noen i staben din tid til å lese gjennom leserkommentarene?

Jag försöker alltid att göra det, men för säkerhets skulle görs det i min stab också. Det handlar ju ibland – men mycket sällan – att ta bort sådant som skulle kunna komma i konflikt med lagen.

-Burde andre politikere blogge, eks. Jens Stoltenberg?

Alla fungerar vi olika. Jag är kanske lite ovanlig i och med att jag ägnat mig ganska intensivt åt den digitala utvecklingen sedan decennier tillbaka. Men jag noterar att det är allt fler runt om i Europa som i alla fall är frestade av att börja blogga.

-Har bloggen din hatt noen effekt/innflytelse, eks på politiske saker?

Ja, alldeles säkert. Den har gjort det möjligt för mig att snabbt komma ut med kommentarer och information – och för de som är intresserade av att snabbt ta del av denna. Och ibland har kommentarer eller informationer jag fått på bloggen varit av betydelse.

-Er bloggen (slik mange forskere sier) en slags notisblokk for deg, i den forstand at du lufter ideer som senere utvikler seg til større prosjekt?

Någon gång kan det kanske ha förekommit.

9 thoughts on “Why Carl Bildt is blogging

  1. I used to subscribe to Bildt’s e-mail newsletter while he was involved in the peace process in the Balkans. I found them very valuable then, as they brought a perpective to the conflict rarely covered by the main-stream media.

  2. All honors to Carl Bildt. He brings, at least me, closer to the processes behind world events, which in Norwegian politics and media seems to be an excercise in undercommunication. It’s interesting to note that Gahr Støre have no plans of blogging either. I guess he has his hand full with handling SMS. I recommend Bildt’s blog, apart from the regular nitwits hanging around in there. Nowadays his commitment to solve the Georgia-Abkhaz-Russia conflict has been very enlightening pointing out the EU stand and processes taking place in a seemingly passive EU.

  3. Thanks for the great comments, guys. And thanks for the tip about the DipNote blog, Anne. I have seen it, and I’m also following DipNote on Twitter:-)

    I just struck me, with more politicians blogging (not that many yet, but I’m sure there will be more), it will also have an impact on political communication in general. A great research project could be to look at how blogging politicians are affecting political communication, since they are communicating more directly with the audience.
    How are politicians communicating in the blogosphere, and how does that differ from “regular media”? I would also like to know more about the readers of politicians’ blogs – are they only the political nerds, or do ordinary people drop by as well ? And how can writing a blog have impact on a politician’s policy?

    If you are aware of similar studies, please let me know.

  4. To your last post, I might add that Carl Bildt never comment on his blog. So it’s more like a monologue rather than dialogue. As for the “regulars” on Carl Bildt’s blog, I would say they seem to be ordinary people: One camp with “Bildt & USA haters” and the opposit side consisting of “Bildt lovers”. Many of those people have rather personal relationships, impressing eachother with namdropping and an affinity to brag about “important people” they personelly have met. Sometimes, however, there seem to be more reflected visitors. All and all it’s the same population you will find in any other blog.

    I think maybe the possibility of agendasetting and personal angle is the most important on a politicians blog: The agenda is for the most part set by the mainstream media and events, not so often by the politician. Then the interesting question is how many reads the blog, and does the statements have any real impact? I doubt it. But maybe you feel you know the politician “personally” after having visited his/her’s blog after a while, and get the feeling that he/her listens to what you say? Maybe some readers get an illusion of participating on the top level in politics?. All this could have some impact in elections. It might also be the easy way out for journalists doing research though..hehe.

    Blogs don’t reach many readers. So I don’t think they can compete with mainstream media regarding impact on population. So as soon as the blogging politicians understand that, they hand it over to the “Department of communication and disinformation” to post their statements..just in case.

    Ok that was my dayly dystophic letter for the electronic society.


  5. You got some very interesting points, Eistein.
    Maybe “illusion of participation” is a term to describe what is going on right now in social media.
    When are we really participating, and when are we just fooled to belive we are participating?

    I’ve got lots of pessimistic friends who would say we are fooled all the time, but I have a more optimistic view. And if “illusion of participation” via blogs can get more people engaged in politics, isn’t that also a value?

  6. “When are we really participating, and when are we just fooled to belive we are participating?”

    And does it really matter which one?
    I think we participate all the time, but on different levels and arenas. Maybe what matters is what we personally gain from it? I think Ibsen said that when you take the life-lie from somebody, you take the life from him/her. I think that includes digital life too, wouldnt you say?

    I think we are becoming digital nomads, constantly moving around to new arenas when the “crapification”, or what is commonly referred to as the “people” catch up and dominates it with it’s presence. Yes I know that’s a very bad thing to say, but hey! I ‘ve been around on the internet for 14 years, so I think I am entitled to have some cred here 🙂

    Also the need to pose, to be seen and heard, is a strong drive in the secular and organic society, where position is established by display of goods ( friends?, looks? aso – ref Facebook). Not far from the RL society perfectly described by Torstein Veblen in his Theory of Conspicious Consumption.

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