Friday, March 8, 2013

WisDOT Says There Has Been No Ghost Blogging

A couple of weeks ago, citing records of a WisDOT meeting about the Zoo Interchange, I wrote this post about ghost/anonymous blogging:

Thursday, February 21, 2013

WisDOT Record Raises Questions About Agency "Ghost" Blogging, Monitoring
In the tradition of government communications speaking for themselves through publication in media outlets like the old I. F. Stone Weekly, or in the The Washington Monthly "Memo of the Month," I offer quotes from the minutes of a Zoo Interchange planning meeting at the Wisconsin Department of Transportation SE Regional office in Waukesha on July 16, 2008...
Emlynn [Grisar]is looking for a new policy informing how and when to respond to blogs regarding the Zoo IC project. Is a ghost blog (anonymous blog) a good way to handle this, this has been done in the past. Also, how often are we monitoring? She is looking for advisement from the Office of Public Affairs (OPA)
I also added this comment from a WisDOT spokesmam, Michael Pyritz;
"I'm completely unaware of anything like that being done on any project," he said, and WisDOT agreed to check further.
WisDOT spokewoman Peg Schmidt subsequently told me by phone that WisDOT did not use anonymous or ghost blogging, and that it would violate WisDOT policy to do so.

In an email earlier this week, Schmidt said:
When we spoke via the phone last week, I indicated that we do not believe there are records responsive to your February 22, 2013, record request below. The use of ghost or anonymous blog comments is not a department practice.
I indicated that I would provide a written response that detailed the extent of the WisDOT search for records in response to your request. I explained that the search would be restricted to records in the possession of Emlynn Grisar and the Office of Public Affairs. This search for records included:
·        Emlynn and I reviewed personal files relating to all records of web sites, blogs and articles.
·        Emlynn and I reviewed personal e-mail and sent items for records relating to web sites, blogs, articles. Emlynn also reviewed personal e-mail and sent items for responses to constituents.
·        I reviewed meeting minutes from coordination meetings and conference calls with all region communication staff during 2008.
·        Emlynn reviewed meeting minutes before and after the July 16, 2008 meeting noted in your request (minutes from June 19, 2008 to August 12, 2009).
I am providing a copy of conference call notes from August 6, 2008, where an item notes, “blogs/websites – continue to use discretion on whether to respond to correct misinformation on sites.”
I’m providing this because it confirms my recollection that in 2008 there was discussion related to the need to respond to blogs as we often had to take steps to get unblocked to access sites.
Emlynn previously provided a copy of our most recent Transportation Administrative Manual (TAM) 112 policy where it is noted that Internet users “may not conceal their identities or misrepresent someone else by any means.” With this email, I am also providing a copy of the TAM 301 policy on social media where it is noted that “all authorized social media sites must be identified as official department sites through the use of the department name or acronym or approved department, campaign or project logos.”
If you need anything further on this let me know.
Peg Schmitt – Office of Public Affairs

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