Below are highlights of the Reporters without Borders’ “Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-dissidents” (download 81-page PDF)
Clothilde Le Coz, Internet Freedom desk, Reporters without Borders
Bloggers cause anxiety. Governments are wary of these men and women, who are posting news, without being professional journalists. Worse, bloggers sometimes raise sensitive issues which the media, now known as “traditional”, do not dare cover. Blogs have in some countries become a source of news in their own right.
…blogs are a fantastic tool for freedom of expression. They have unloosed the tongues of ordinary citizens. People who were until now only consumers of news have become players in a new form of journalism, a “grassroots” journalism…
Blogs are more or less controllable for those who want to keep them under surveillance.
Governments that are most up to do date with new technology use the most sophisticated filtering or blocking techniques, preventing them from appearing on the Web at all.
In countries where censorship holds sway, blogs are sometimes the only source of news.
LeMondedublog.com, an online magazine about blogging
What is a blog?
A “BLOG” (OR “WEBLOG”) IS A PERSONAL WEBSITE :
• containing mostly news (“posts”).
• regularly updated.
• in the form of a diary (most recent posts at the top of the page), with most of the posts also arranged in categories.
• set up using a specially-designed interactive tool.
• usually created and run by a single person, sometimes anonymously.
A BLOG’S POSTS :
• are usually text (including external links), sometimes with pictures and, more and more often, sound and video.
• can be commented on by visitors.
• are archived on the blog and can been accessed there indefinitely.
SO A BLOG IS MUCH LIKE A “PERSONAL WEBPAGE, EXCEPT THAT IT :
• is easier to set up and maintain and so much more active and more frequently updated.
• encourages a more open and personal style and franker viewpoints.
• greatly encourages discussion with visitors and other bloggers.
• sets a standard worldwide format for blogs, involving similar methods (two or three-column layout, comments on posts and RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed.
Websites about blogging
There are many websites about blogging. Here are some addresses :
Dan Gilmore, founder of Grassroots Media Inc., a company aimed at promoting grassroots journalism
What ethics should bloggers have?
Not all bloggers do journalism. Most do not. But when they do, they should be ethical.
The professional journalism world is awash in ethics codes. Some are longer than the United States Constitution, trying to anticipate every possible breach. Others are short and succinct, offering more positive guidance. The cyber-journalist Website has adapted for bloggers an ethics code from the Society of Professional Journalists, an American group. It is a solid and worthy effort.
All ethics codes are created for one essential purpose: to instill trust. If a reader (or viewer or listener) cannot trust the report, there is usually little reason to bother in the first place.
There are pillars of good journalism: thoroughness, accuracy, fairness, transparency and independence. The lines separating them are not always clear. They are open to wide interpretation, and are therefore loaded with nuance in themselves.
A columnist for Online Journalism Review
What really makes a blog shine
In the billions and billions of words posted by the millions of blogs worldwide, what makes one particular blog stand out from the teeming mass? What puts the blog writer into a special class, makes readers return day after day and brings accolades from the media?
It’s connection. Successful bloggers are those who connect with their readers, whether 10 or 10,000 people, by entertaining or enlightening them. Many people like to draw boundaries between bloggers and other writers (journalists, novelists, marketers) but their goals are similar: grab people by the collar and don’t let go.
But what makes these and other noteworthy blogs shine? Here are some of their main attributes, the things that set them apart from all those millions of other blogs:
A UNIQUE AND PERSONAL VOICE
The best bloggers talk in their own voice, celebrate their unique identity and tell the stories that are real to them.
KEEP IT CURRENT
The biggest problem with the vast majority of blogs is that they are stale. To be successful, bloggers must keep writing posts on a regular basis and stay up on the topics that interest them, including current affairs. That doesn’t mean they have to post 12 times every day, but a few weeks off can kill a blog’s audience.
CONNECT WITH AND EMPOWER READERS
One of the distinguishing features of blogs is interactivity. There are many ways to engage your readers, involve them in the conversation and utilize their feedback.
TELL TRUTH TO POWER
While many blogs include commentary, some also include original old-fashioned reporting. There’s no right way to do it, but having either original reporting or an original angle on a story helps set your blog apart.