Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Blogging Guide For Social-Activists, Independent Journalists And Online Reporters

Reporters Without Borders has produced the Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber Dissidents, a 46-page eBook describing how to successfully create a blog even under government censorship scenarios, or where speaking up openly can endanger the freedom of the blogging author.

Photo credit: Danilevici Filip-E

"[Blogs are regarded by many] as the vanguard of a new information revolution. Because they allow and encourage ordinary people to speak up, they're tremendous tools of freedom of expression.

Bloggers are often the only real journalists in countries where the mainstream media is censored or under pressure. Only they provide independent news, at the risk of displeasing the government and sometimes courting arrest.

Reporters Without Borders has produced this handbook to help them, with handy tips and technical advice on how to to remain anonymous and to get round censorship, by choosing the most suitable method for each situation."

Available in five languages, the handbook is a comprehensive guide with info any blogger needs to know, like how to create interesting content, establish credibility and maintain ethics. It also covers the sexier aspects of blogging against government wishes, like using technologies to get your message out without exposing your identity.

This is a great resource for anyone blogging from a country without the right to free speech. It is a systematic guide to bringing your message to the masses and provides detailed instructions about creating a successful blog while keeping your personal safety at a premium.



Inspiration for cyber-dissidents comes in the introduction, where editor Julien Pain writes on the importance of bloggers.

"Bloggers are often the only real journalists in countries where the mainstream media is censored or under pressure. Only they provide independent news, at the risk of displeasing the government and sometimes courting arrest."

The Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents starts at the most basic level, explaining what a blog is, and includes a mini-glossary to blogging terms. Initial sections cover general tips about creating a blog, including:

  • Choosing software

  • Understanding XML

  • Soliciting via RSS

  • Posting to your blog

  • Managing trackbacks

Contributing writer Dan Gillmour of comments on the ethics of blogging, stating that any ethical standard needs to establish trust before objectivity. He includes the Bloggers Code of Ethics from the Cyber-Journalist Website and discusses the need for thoroughness, accuracy, fairness, transparency and independence in bloggers work.

The handbook also discusses the importance of publicizing your blog from the perspective of a blogger behind a tyrannical government.

"A blog without readers won't worry the powers-that-be, but what's the point of it?" Pain asks. He then breaks down the technical requirements for successfully promoting a blog, including creating useful headings, introduction paragraphs, and how to use blog search engines to your advantage.

A well-constructed and promoted blog is no good if it doesn't make readers want more. Mark Glaser of Online Journalism Review examines how to make a blog shine by creating a specific voice, adding current content frequently, engaging readers collaboratively, and standing up to the oppressors who want to restrict your message.

Blogger/journalists including Chan'ad Bahraini and Yan-Sham Shackleton contribute to the book, discussing their experiences writing in nations without free speech. Also detailed are the nations of the most intense internet censorship, including China, Vietnam, Tunisia and Cuba.

The handbook also covers how to remain anonymous while blogging, touting the importance of:

The benefits of using software specially designed to mask the origin of the user cannot be understated, and guide gives examples of software to achieve this anonymity:

The handbook also includes descriptions of the filtering that many governments use, describing their origins in keeping children safe from pornography. This filtering is now used to restrict access to information, and there are ways to subvert and counteract these efforts:

The tips and information in the Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents are invaluable for writers facing government censorship, as well as for those wanting to research and understand more the issues and problems faced by independent grassroots publishers.

Get it here: Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber Dissidents.

Kevin Borgia - Julien Pain -
Reference: Reporters Without Borders [ Read more ]
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posted by on Thursday, October 13 2005, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.




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