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11/17/2009

Geithner invites bloggers

NY Times: From Treasury, an Invitation to Financial Bloggers The Treasury Department opened its doors to economic bloggers this month, and the meeting was productive in at least one respect: as John Jansen of the blog Across the Curve concluded, “After meeting them, I feel I cannot refer to them as Timothy Geithner and his minions” anymore. Mr. Geithner, the Treasury secretary, was among the senior officials who talked with bloggers at an outreach session on Nov. 2. The two-hour round table was held on background, meaning that the bloggers could describe the sessions, but not attribute quotes to specific officials. Lengthy posts about financial system reforms — and the bloggers’ disagreements with the Treasury’s strategies — ensued. New-media scribes have gradually made their way inside most governmental institutions over the years, but the meeting was the first for bloggers at the Treasury. Tyler Cowen, an economics professor at George Mason University who has written at the Marginal Revolution blog for six years, said it was the first time he had heard from any Treasury official. The meeting “shows that the Obama administration is working very hard on outreach to a lot of different media sources,” he said. The Treasury invited about 20 bloggers. Eight attended — at their own expense — including some ardent critics of the department. Michael J. Panzner, who writes the Financial Armageddon blog, said the invitation “was totally out of the blue.” Andrew Williams, a spokesman for the Treasury who assembled the event, said that Mr. Geithner had “long valued the blogosphere” and mentioned that during Mr. Geithner’s tenure as the president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, he had requested a daily compendium of relevant blog posts. Another reason for the outreach, Mr. Williams said, is that the blogs are influential, especially because they are read by reporters at more traditional outlets. For the Treasury officials, it was a break from the ordinary, as well. “I think we were much better informed than the groups they’re used to talking to,” Mr. Cowen said, citing politicians who visit and “ask for the impossible.” Mr. Cowen, also a regular contributor to the Sunday Business section of The New York Times, said that one of the senior officials remarked that the bloggers were a “welcome change of pace.” Some of the bloggers were acutely aware of the effects of being welcomed inside “the brain trust,” as Steve Randy Waldman put it on the blog Interfluidity. “The mere invitation made me more favorably disposed to policy makers,” he wrote in his summary of the event, even though he abstained from eating any of the cookies at the meeting, “on principle.” The above article was posted in www.singaporeanskeptic.blogspot.com

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