A simple guide to write about complex topics
If you are attending the gigX, there’s some essential reading!
We hope this guide is useful to orientate you on how to generate content related to gender and internet governance while you are participating at the gigX and the regional IGF meeting.
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 at all. If you want a blog piece to be spell- and grammar-checked, you need to ask the editorial team.
Check previous blog posts for reference:
… an analytical article
Analytical articles are to 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 feminist perspective. This means in practice that you have to cite your sources, link widely and provide readers with context for your arguments. Analytical articles are expected to be between 1,500 and 2,500 words.
Rather than news conventions, academic conventions are probably most useful here. Make one point per paragraph, cite broadly to illustrate both your expertise and the precedents for your argument, establish early on the argument you are making and guide your reader through the stages that you take to get there. Make sure that when you reference your work thoroughly, particularly when you cite others.
In your analysis you can look at the root causes of an issue, draw links between personal experiences of women and historical and global processes, or examine similarities and differences in manifestation of the issue by people living in different contexts as well as their response to this issue.
Check previous analytical articles for reference:
… an interview
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.
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.
Lastly, 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 they are 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.
Check previous interviews for reference:
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, depending on factors like the quality of the audio/video, the permissions you get from the people featured in them, and your capacity to edit the material.
Checklist for all articles
Every article submitted should contain 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.
- Make sure you have all the data you need about the interviewees or the people you are naming or writing about. It will be much harder afterwards!
- Also 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!
- 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, (eg: sonia_apc rather than womensprogramme_apc). People are more interested in personal opinions and views rather than organisational speech. Writers are expected to use their accounts for tweeting during events.
- We use the hashtags: #genderit and #genderitES for Spanish. APC Twitter accounts are @APC_News @APCNoticias @APCNouvelles @GenderITorg @GenderITorgES.
- Sometimes, before an event, a set of predefined tweets is shared via email to facilitate the tweeting and the dissemination of our key messages.
- Once at the event, find out what hashtag people are using: Sometime there are various hashtags circulating. For instance, with IGF, tweeples could be using various tags — such as #IGF_2015, #IGFBrazil or #IGF2015. Identify the most popular one. We’ll use that hashtag for the box on APC.org.
- Tweet (in English and/or in Spanish): 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.
- Re-tweet interesting stuff from other people: this will help us build our Twitter audience.
- Blog: Many times you can cut and paste some tweets and replies and make an interesting post with little effort. You can also use tweets for reporting or as a way of taking notes.
- 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 #IGF? 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.
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 to 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:
- Live blogging: This is reporting from a session in real time.
- Daily wrap-ups: This is providing highlights from the conference from each day.
- 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 dripping it out, 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 #genderit announced that will be covering at the #CSW59
– 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.
Example: Susan Marx wrote about an internet intermediaries’ guide to social media and online VAW fighting strategy, which was a preview of the presentation she gave last year at #CSW58.
– 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.
Example: Susan Marx shared her wrap-up of a panel discussion on how to eradicate online violence against women at the #CSW59.
– 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 (check Storify below).
Example: Missed the event and looking for a compilation of debates? Check our most tweetable moments from #CSW58
– A compilation of Instagram 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 GenderIT.org insider Instagram pics from workshops at #CSW58
– 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/
- Take Back the Tech (in English) and APC (in English, Spanish and French) pages are the only official Facebook pages that APC uses.
- You are invited to post on Facebook using your personal account all links and photos considered relevant for the coverage.
- Inviting people at the event to “like” the pages and to post relevant links as well is another possibility.
We always appreciate having pictures to illustrate the articles or for some other purposes, so picture taking is more than encouraged. You can upload them to a Flickr account and share them with the editors, also by email, or upload it yourself to illustrate your output.
Tip: Please remember that this entails security and privacy issues for the people in the pictures, so make sure that the people appearing in the image is fine with that.
Storify has been successfully used during some events to compile relevant tweets, Facebook posts, YouTube videos and other social media posts. It’s a fast and easy way to compose blog posts-like content. Its also a very useful tool to condense and store in one place debates or interviews carried over Twitter, for instance (as in the first example below).
Usually, after a big event coverage, a special GenderIT.org/APCNews edition is released (this is not always the case) but it is quite a key and relevant moment inour editorial timeline, since it spikes our readership interest and it keeps us as reference points on the gender lensed coverage of events such as the IGF, that are usually (if covered at all) covered from other perspectives.
One last word
- Please contact Flavia Fascendini (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Caroline Tagny (email@example.com) to send us your articles and other materials, so we can publish them in www.genderit.org and in gigx.events.apc.org/.
- Also please do write to us if you have any questions about topics to cover, what to write, where to publish, etc.
- Have fun! We want you to enjoy this experience as much as possible.