“Blogs are increasingly used as a political tool. Political blogging has risen rapidly in the last 18 months and will no doubt be important in next year’s French elections. The most visited political blog Guido Fawkes is as popular as Private Eye magazine. Fawkes publishes his server logs on his site to show that politicians go there and use the site.
“There are stories that appear in the media that we tracked using traditional press cuttings services, but blogging is not tracked by cuttings agencies. Monitoring news is important as so much affects us as a government.
“We see a number of newspapers are crediting the blogs that gave them the lead. The Home Office used its library current awareness service to track blogs.
Karen George, head of the Home Office library told them how the blog monitoring was done –
“In July 2005 they had a meeting with the press office to set up a montoring service on a trial period of six months.
“As news of what we were doing for the press office spread we were asked by lawyers, IT and all areas of Home Office made requests. Issues like ID cards produce a peak in blogs. In November of this year we already on 1888 alerts. We have 12 librarians that monitor blogs on a daily seven day week basis. These come in as feeds, the tools make the job easier, they cannot replace the skills of the professionals. Fundamental information professional skills of knowing your audience really comes to light. In just over a year it has become a key part of our department service, the benefits include a public enquiries unit that we can alert to media campaigns that are Home Office issues. There is now an enquiry department that is ahead of the news. As a result the department has a better relationship with its users.”