In this workshop, participants explore blogging and see how it can be used for civic journalism. A number of websites offer free blogs. The focus of this activity is not on the technical aspects of setting up a blog, but on what needs to be considered when planning a blog.
A maximum number of five participants is recommended, as each participant is likely to need quite a lot of attention and guidance from the facilitator(s).
1. Welcome the participants and introduce the workshop by saying:
“Today we will explore civic journalism and blogging. People use blogs for a variety of reasons. For some it is a way of expressing themselves critically in public. Other people use blogs are as a public diary to share with friends and family. Using blogs for public debate and discussion is also becoming more and more popular. Sharing opinions, experiences and stories publically encourages bloggers to reflect carefully on their writing, both in terms of style and purpose. Today we will discuss different things around blogging and you will also have the opportunity to create a blog that you can publish online.”
2. Continue by asking participants:
• What examples of interesting blogs have you read? Which blogs do you read on a regular basis?
• What makes these blogs so interesting?
• Do you know any blogs that are used specifically for civic journalism (public debate)?
• How successful are these blogs (i.e. the ones used for public debate)?
• Do any of you write blogs? If yes, what blog sites do you use and what kinds of things do you post about?
• Do you only write on the blog or do you also post images, links to other sites, etc.?
• How often do you write something on your blog?
• How can blogging contribute to the local community?
3. Explain that the participants will now practise blogging. Give each participant pen and paper and ask to think quietly for a few minutes about something they would like to blog on. After a few minutes ask them to share their idea with the person sitting next to them.
4. When the participants share their ideas, ask them to explain the details for their blog:
• Why do you want to blog about this particular topic?
• Will you be sharing personal experiences with friends or discussing a subject for public debate?
• What site will you blog on?
• Who will read your blog?
• How long will the blog be?
• Will it only be writing or will you post other things, such as images, links etc.?
• Are there any ethical things you should consider in writing your blog?
5. Now give the participants one hour to write their blog. If they have access to computers they can type it up. If not, they can write it by hand to transfer later.
6. When the participants have finished, ask them to share their blogs with the group. Give the other participants the opportunity to ask questions or reflect on the blog. This will enable the blogger to review his or her blog before posting it online.
7. Give the participants another 15 minutes to revise their blogs and invite them to post them online. If no computers are available, discuss how and when the participants will post their blogs at a later time.
8. End the activity by thanking the participants for their efforts and say:
“Blogging is a new platform for self-expression and public debate, accessible to everyone with the Internet. Blogging can be used to discuss social issues affecting young people and is an excellent way to practise writing skills. However, it is a public platform and it is very important that whatever is included in the blog is carefully and safely communicated for the intended audience.”