A rather precious Iain Dale "guesses" that the government intention to set up a "blog monitoring unit" (as reported by The Financial Times) is "another excuse to employ a few more people on the public sector payroll."
This is a project by the COI's Media Monitoring Unit (MMU), which is considering how to add blogs to its regular summaries of government coverage of the mainstream press and television. We are told that the initiative reflects the growing media profile of the format and the fact some individual bloggers are moving from niche self-publishers to establishment opinion-formers.
Clarence Mitchell, director of the MMU, said that, although there was debate about the objectivity of some bloggers, several were taken increasingly seriously within government.
In fact, this development simply formalises the status quo. After all, not only does the MoD routinely monitor this blog (as does the US Department of Defense) but, through its Defence Headquarters, has also joined our forum and posted several comments from the Defence Procurement Minister (Lord Drayson), responding to issues raised by this blog (and ignored by the MSM).
At the time, we regarded this as a sign that the blogosphere was coming of age. If we are seriously to challenge the monopoly of the MSM as opinion formers, then we should want the government to "monitor" our output – in the same way that it "monitors" the output of the MSM - and engage in dialogue with us.
Therefore, that the government is so doing, and is taking some bloggers "seriously", is only to be welcomed.