To blog or not to blog?

Posted on July 30, 2010 by Nicole Schlosser

These days, it’s a given that nearly everyone publishes a blog, is on Facebook, Twitter or all of the above. More and more of our work and personal lives have gravitated online. With nearly everyone seemingly reporting everything online, how does a transit agency or coach operator handle situations presented by employee scribes who blog publicly about their job?

 

The Oregonian recently reported on TriMet bus driver Dan Christensen’s suspension last week for his "Portland! Kill This Bicyclist" post on his personal blog, TriMet Confidential. As of Thursday night, the driver was officially back to work after a discussion with his supervisor about the post in question, according to his blog. He claims he “has written pretty much everything he can about being a bus driver in Portland” and will stop blogging for the time being. He also told the newspaper that he “could be a bus driver who blogs or a blogger who drives a bus. ... I want to be a bus driver.”

 

Christensen said TriMet didn’t pressure him to stop blogging, and that the point of his post was that some bicyclists are reckless. The agency reads any public blogs written by its employees, but does not make any attempt to “monitor” them. TriMet’s policy on blogging allows employees to post blogs about anything they choose, — related to TriMet or otherwise —  but asks that they state the blog is not related to TriMet, and “do not cross the line” according to TriMet Communications Director Mary Fetsch. In this case, “crossing the line” meant the perception of threatening physical harm to a cyclist.

 

Many other transit agencies I have spoken with have a policy that is informed by the fact that having an ongoing online presence is simply a fact of life now. They remain hands-off, unless the blogger is leaking proprietary information.

 

What about your agency? Do you monitor employee blogs or have a policy on the online conduct of employees? Would you have handled the situation with the TriMet bus driver/blogger differently?

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