Are you attending an African Internet Rights event?

If you are attending an African Internet Rights event, here are some recommendations:

We hope this guide is useful to help you generate content related to internet rights, with a special focus on the African Declaration, while attending events, conferences, workshops.

First of all, some clues on how to write…

… A BLOG POST

A blog post is where you get to be yourself – use more informal language, express opinions and challenge your readers. Blog posts pieces are usually quite short, no more than 500 words, but be warned! They are very lightly edited. If you want a blog piece to be spell- and grammar-checked, you need to ask the editorial team (Leila or Yolanda – see their contact details at the end of this guide).

Do’s and don’ts:

Do:

  • Be to the point: use accessible language
  • Be distinctive: Add a bit of your personality
  • Be timely: If your blog-post relates to an event it should not be published more than two weeks after the event has passed

Don’t

  • Use very formal or academic language
  • Use very long sentences and paragraphs

Examples:

What does internet policy mean for an average Ugandan?
Trials of a confused feminist (in an internet governance school)
Young African meets global forum
Why internet rights matter for Africa(ns)

… AN ANALYTICAL ARTICLE

Sometimes blog posts can go deeper and be analytical articles which inform readers about perspectives, issues and debates, putting forward ideas. We don’t expect writers to be ‘objective’ or ‘impartial’, we expect an informed, well-reasoned internet rights-based perspective. Analytical articles are expected to be between 1,500 and 2,500 words.

Dos and don’ts:

Do:

  • Reference: cite your resources broadly to illustrate both your expertise and the precedents for your argument
  • Link to academic resources
  • Provide readers with context for your arguments
  • Make one point per paragraph
  • Establish early on the argument you are making and guide your reader through the stages that you take to get there
  • Look at the root causes of an issue
  • Draw links between personal experiences and historical and global processes
  • Examine similarities and differences in the manifestation of the issue by people living in different contexts as well as their response to this issue.

Don’t

  • Make claims or arguments without citing resources
  • Write a set of paragraphs without an overview at the beginning which sets out your argument and explains its structure

… AN INTERVIEW

An interview is a great and engaging way to get someone’s perspective on an important issue or event. They may be an expert or simply someone whose view and experience is valuable and interesting to a particular topic.

The most important thing to remember about interviews is that they are not verbatim transcripts. You are expected to edit the interviewee’s words to make them more concise, and easier to understand, but not to censor views or change the meaning of the words.

Do’s and don’ts

Do

  • Ask questions that draw out the interviewee, that help non-experts understand her or his perspective and the importance of that perspective on the subject.
  • Allow them space at the end of the interview to add anything that you may not have already covered.
  • Think about the power relations between yourself and the interviewee. Make sure that they are comfortable with the questions beforehand, especially if they are a survivor of violence.
  • If the interviewee is in a marginalised or vulnerable position, give them the opportunity to read the final article before it is uploaded, and make sure that they are happy with their portrayal.
  • If the interview was conducted over the phone or similar, quote check – send them the transcript of the quotes you are using from them, to check for accuracy.

Don’t

  • Write a verbatim transcript
  • Censor views or change the meaning of the words

Examples:

Interview with Nana Darkoa: Adventures from the bedroom of an African woman
PROTEGE QV: “The African Declaration should be a citizen handbook on internet use”
Meha Jouini at AfriSIG 2015: The internet has allowed me to publicly express my identity as an Amazigh woman activist

MULTIMEDIA CONTENT

Videos and audios are great resources when you are doing an event coverage. You can record the interviews and panels, and then decide how you want to use that material, for example as part of a blog or analytical article, or even share it directly via social media. However, make sure that:

The quality of the audio/video is of a good standard
You get permission from the people featured in them
You have capacity to edit the material or know someone who does

Checklist for all articles. Every article submitted should have these elements:

  • Heading: This is where you persuade readers that they should read your story.
  • Summary or lead: One or two sentences that summarise the main point of your article, again to persuade the reader to read further.
  • Biography: Two or three lines describing who you are – even if you are writing anonymously this could give readers some context of the work that you do.
  • Gather all the data you need about the interviewees or the people you are naming or writing about. It will be much harder afterwards!
  • Try to provide as many links as possible in relation to your article, since this helps to give the reader a better understanding of the background.

Now… some words on social media!

TWITTER

  1. Make sure that you have a Twitter account: Make it open (otherwise people who are not following you – the ones we want to reach- won’t be able to see your tweets). If you want to keep your Twitter account private you can create a new one for work. Make your user name as personal as you can, people are more interested in personal opinions and views rather than organisational speech. Writers are expected to use their accounts for tweeting during events.
  2. We use the hashtag #AfricanInternetRights. The official African Declaration account is @AfricaNetRights, we will also be tweeting from @apc_news, @globalpartnersd and other institutional and personal accounts.
  3. Sometimes, before an event, a set of predefined tweets is shared via email to facilitate the tweeting and the dissemination of our key messages. We will share some during the coming days.
  4. Once at the event, find out what hashtag people are using: Sometime there are various hashtags circulating. For instance, with the African IGF, twitter users could be using various tags, #AfIGF, #AfrIGF2015, etc. Identify the most popular one and use it together with the #AfricaInternetRights one to benefit from the drive of each event.
  5. Tweet (in English and/or any other language): You can quote panelists and participants (short, summarised and catchy phrases) and/or your reactions to what it’s being said, about conversations you have or overhear, your observations, sound bytes, links to interesting resources or news, photos, reminders about events. You can also reply to other participants; many times real participation takes.
  6. Re-tweet interesting stuff from other people: this will help us build our Twitter audience.
  7. Blog: Many times you can cut and paste some tweets and replies and make an interesting blogpost with little effort. You can also use tweets for reporting or as a way of taking notes.
  8. Invite people to share their own writings: You will not be alone in the coverage of an event, so this other people are your allies. Contact them via Twitter or email to give them a heads up on the coverage plans and ask them to send you their stuff.

Example: Are you going to be writing at #AfIGF? If so, I would love to include your post(s) in our ongoing event coverage. Send me a DM with a link to your post, and we’ll get it added to our site.

MORE TIPS FOR TWEETING!

  • Make a plan: Choose your sessions in advance. If you are attending an event with multiple tracks, schedule which sessions you’ll be attending and covering in advance. If you don’t want to cover everything you sit in on, consider what your readers will benefit from the most. Once you decide what you will be covering, prep your posts with these basics to save time:
  • Name of the session and speaker: Make sure you can provide a bit of background about the speaker, including links to his/her company, Twitter handle, etc.
  • Details of the session: Is there a Slideshare or a programme available that you can review in advance? If so, it may help to type up the basic structure of the presentation and then fill in the details as you listen.
    Tip: Be careful. Some events are more private than others; if it’s a small event make sure that people are OK with your tweeting, and if Chatham rules apply.
  • Decide on a writing platform: In addition to deciding which sessions you want to cover, decide how you want to capture information from each session. Because internet connections can never be relied upon 100 percent, we suggest you write in a text editor so you don’t have to worry about connectivity.
  • Decide what kind of content to produce: There are a number of ways you can cover sessions at an event, and you should decide what format will work best for your audience before you get on-site. Here are a few general options:
  1. Live blogging: This is reporting from a session in real time.
  2. Daily wrap-ups: This is providing highlights from the conference from each day.
  3. Post-event coverage: Collect content that you can then use after the event. This content may be a bit more refined, and it could have a bit of a different spin than “straight coverage” of a session.

Now, regardless of if you are publishing your content in real time or not, here are some ways to generate interest in your coverage:

  • Announce what you will cover: If you are going to be changing your regular posting schedule and publishing live blogs throughout a conference, it’s a good idea to let your readers know. You can also use this post to announce if someone from your organization will be speaking.

Example: Check out what (handle) announced that will be covering at the #AfIGF, #AfricanInternetRights

  • Tease your session: If you are speaking at the event, you may want to write about your session before it occurs. Not only is this is a great way to repurpose content that you have spent a lot of time creating, but it also builds anticipation for your session.
  • Step-by-step posts: One classic way to cover a session is to do a rundown of the ideas the speaker shared, following the same structure as the presentation. This is especially easy to do if the speaker is covering a process or another well-organized topic.
  • Summary of tweets: Another fun thing you can do is follow the Twitter stream during the presentation and record the most insightful and popular tweets and share them in a post using Storify.

Example: Missed the event and looking for a compilation of debates? Check our most tweetable moments at #AfIGF #AfricanInternetRights

  • A compilation of Instagram / Flickr photos: There are a lot of intangibles you experience when attending an event. Capture them by taking photos or curating what others have shared and post that on Twitter (always remember to respect people’s right to privacy and anonymity).

Example: 45 insider #AfricanInternetRigths Instagram pics from workshops at #AfIGF

  • Wrap-up posts. When necessary, instead of covering individual sessions, consider writing a wrap-up post that outlines the key points you found most valuable or compelling, and share the link with a tweet that is appealing and captures the best of the article.

Example: #SectionJ: From footnotes to headlines https://www.apc.org/en/node/20266