Two legislators explore blogosphere

Posted: Friday, March 10, 2006

Two Alaska legislators are keeping their constituents in the know with a medium that has been slow to catch on inside the Capitol.

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The so-called "blogs," or Web logs, function like online diaries and allow people to post fresh commentaries and photos without the help of a news organization.

In this era of immediate information, the weekly or monthly newsletter won't cut it, said House Majority Leader John Coghill, R-North Pole.

"I'm trying to do it so that it is not boring,"Coghill said of corresponding with his constituents.

Rep. Bob Lynn, R-Anchorage, agreed that a cutting-edge solution is needed to reach young people and a larger audience.

"If you're going to represent somebody in 2006, I think you better get with it and use a computer," he said.

Only a handful of legislators across the country maintain blogs, Lynn said. At 73 years of age, the Anchorage lawmaker said any politician could have one, regardless of age.

"I think more legislators should do it," he said.

Coghill threw his hat into cyberspace last summer. Lynn has been blogging since April.

"Once you do it a few times, it's pretty straightforward," Coghill said. The hard part is disciplining oneself to find 20 minutes a day to write, he added.

Lynn agreed that with the Legislature doing some heavy lifting on oil tax and other issues, this session has been the busiest since he took office in 2003. He types from his downtown hotel room after the day is over.

Coghill's blog, at, features photos of the majority leader working the halls and gabbing with visitors from his district.

An entry from the beginning of the session may fit well in a Ken Burns biographic film:

web links

"A battle is brewing on the House Floor. Senate Bill 87, which would require that seat belts be worn by drivers in Alaska, is up for a vote and the count will be very close," Coghill wrote.

The blog also includes photos of his summer birthday party, his brief meeting with former Russian President Boris Yeltsin, and photos from his district's last July 4 celebration.

"It's a work in progress," he said. Coghill added that he plans to delve into weightier commentaries as the session tugs on.

Lynn's blog, at, has covered such meaty issues as dealings with the Alaska Permanent Fund, and down-to-earth-topics such as the Capitol's elevators shutting down in January.

"Perhaps the governor could utilize his new jet airplane to ferry the elevator parts from New York to Alaska," Lynn wrote. "If not having to climb five flights of stairs to do legislative business isn't a threat to 'public safety,' I don't know what is."

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