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192, April 2014 Latest update 9 2014f August 2014, at 4.39 am
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BlogBus Blog from the Valleys
By Saed Karzoun
The BlogBus idea came to me while I was traveling in Germany during the month of October 2012. The project then remained an idea, only to see the light and become fully developed at the beginning of 2014. The BlogBus is part of a bigger project called “You Know,” which aims to formalise a bloggers’ network for all Palestinian writers, journalists, and social media activists, and train them on how to use digital and social media tools and methods in their own work. It also seeks to connect traditional and non-traditional media outlets.

Initiatives that have attempted to bring together bloggers and activists to work collectively on telling stories from a particular location or to cover a specific issue from different angles have usually not lasted long. The case is different for the BlogBus. We aim to bring together each month a group of bloggers and media experts for a trip (in a bus, of course) to a specific location, for example, the Jordan Valley, or Hebron and its villages. Each person on the bus will have the freedom to cover any story from that location. The collective goal is to bring to light various issues, locations, and people, and highlight the stories that mainstream media may not cover. Our main publishing outlets will be social media. Participants will be able to post their stories through their own personal accounts. Locations will be chosen based on monthly themes, and the visits are one component of a wider campaign that aims to raise awareness about various locations, issues, or stories. The BlogBus can be followed through the You Know platform.

Our first few trips have been successful, and we have received very good feedback from participants.

“The idea of the bus has achieved many goals. First, the creation of a direct link between bloggers and electronic media activists; second, the benefit of direct transport to target locations without an intermediary, which gives credibility to those who convey the news stories; and thirdly, the innovative idea of the bus itself that encourages other human rights and social organisations to carry out similar ideas and activities.” Famous blogger Mohammad Abu Allan

“An easy but, at the same time, a tough idea. Everyone is busy and under a lot of pressure to deal with several issues at the same time. It was difficult to gather all the bloggers and to ask them to focus on one issue, one goal, or one significant agreed-upon national concern. During one trip we chose to concentrate on the Jordan Valley and to use the bus as a research tool from which people could gather information to be shared in order to inform and influence public opinion. Although the location wasn’t new to some of the people on the bus, the diversity of the group affected everyone and enabled us to see things as though for the first time!” Hekmat Bessiso

“The bus is a dynamic reality, similar to our situation in Palestine, which changes very quickly. Livestock can be killed in a moment when their shelters are destroyed; families can go into debt within a very short time when they pay hundreds and thousands of liras to release their youth from prisons. It was crucial for me to remain open-minded and open-hearted, and to take good notes as I listened to civilians in the Valley. I didn’t want to record a simply superficial account. Fidaa Ataya

“The BlogBus is one of the best methods to convey the reality of the country by listening to stories from the civilians themselves.” Saleh Dwabsheh

Our future plan is to facilitate the process of posting on social networks for our bloggers. We are currently working on building a smartphone application. The application will allow bloggers to post photos, videos, and stories instantaneously on all their social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. We also aim to engage various decision makers who can speak on the various issues we cover every month. Their input will also be published on the You Know platform.

By the end of December 2014, we hope to establish an interactive multimedia gallery for the photos of all the BlogBus trips, pictures that have been taken from cameras or mobile phones, best videos, and YouTube films, comments and tweets, stories and radio broadcasts. All our blogs and entries will start with “Blog from…,” followed by the location or area we are visiting.

Saed Karzoun is a media person and blogger. He is the founder of the “You Know” project. He is also a 2014 regional final nominee for the Fifth Annual Hult Prize, the world’s largest competition for start-up funding. He was chosen as one of the top 40 finalists from an original 10,000 applicants.


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