Govt weibo learning to talk the good talk
Updated: 2011-12-13 07:06
By Cao Yin (China Daily)
BEIJING - A large number of government departments and officials have stepped into the online world through weibo - but most of them are still more show than tell, a new media researcher said on Monday.
Wang Hui, director of the Beijing government information office, talks to journalists in Beijing at a news conference for the launch of micro blog services for Beijing government bodies in November.[Photo/Xinhua]
So far, nearly 20,000 micro blogs - including more than 10,000 government departments and about 9,000 officials - have been opened on Sina weibo, the most popular and biggest micro blog service in China.
However, some administrative weibo have hardly been updated after being opened, while some have just followed the new media trend blindly without interacting with netizens, said Zhu Huaxin, secretary-general of people.com.cn's department of public opinion monitoring, on the 2011 Government weibo Annual Summit in Beijing on Monday.
The Beijing Municipal Health Bureau, which opened its weibo on Nov 17, has posted 34 pieces of information and has 40,000 followers. But it seldom gets netizens' replies and forwards.
"We are confused about how to interact with netizens and are still finding ways to operate in the new age of information technology," said Zhang Jianshu, director of information services at the bureau.
"At present, weibo is taken as a window for our bureau to publish health information or knowledge for residents," he said.
"We just posted some service information, such as tips for smoggy days and suggestions on preventing popular diseases in winter. What we are doing is still observing," he added.
Like the bureau, weibo Chengde, a government micro blog in Chengde city, Hebei province, is also facing similar problems on operating the new platform.
"We don't know how to discuss public or even sensitive issues with our fans, or which tone is better for answering netizens' questions," Zuo Xiaohua, deputy director of Chengde's governmental information office, told China Daily with a shrug.
Most government officials in the city with little knowledge about the Internet do not dare open micro blogs to show their opinions, let alone use weibo for the administration, Zuo said.
"Our micro blog just relies on posting some soft information like travel tips, history and tourism culture to show our city's advantages," she said.
Both the two official micro-bloggers said on the forum that they hope to learn some operation and interaction experience from Ping'an Beijing, a relatively mature official account with more than 2 million fans, and one that receives a lot of applause from netizens.
Zhao Feng, a police officer in charge of maintaining the weibo of the capital's public security bureau, said they have established a 24-hour weibo operation system with 10 officers replying to netizen's questions in turns.
Zhao said the officers can answer in an informal way because weibo, different from official websites, is a fast and relaxing communication platform.
"We also present some regular programs, including police studios and crime scenes, to make our account interesting and provide a space for talk between netizens and police officers," he said.
But Zhu Lijia, a professor of public administration research with the Chinese Academy of Governance, said the more governments use weibo, the more disordered the online service will be.
"The micro blog is a private communication platform, but our departments from the central government to the grassroots invest a lot of money in it instead of the previous e-government. I think it is unnecessary," he added.
Zhou Wenting contributed to this story.