A blog (short for "web log") is a collection of posts written in a conversational style. Think of it like a combination of an op-ed piece, a journal entry, and a readers' guide to the topic of your choice.
Blog posts offer authors a chance to write in a less restrictive way than traditional journalism. Stating opinion is standard in blog posts, though backing that opinion with some form of fact or logical reasoning is still considered important for getting the idea through to readers. Authors can write in the first person and share personal experiences, anecdotes, or simply ask questions that may not have answers. Blog posts can be excellent discussion starters (see Rev. Kent Siladi's post on minimum wage). Readers can even comment on posts, creating dialogue on whatever topic the author chose. [The CTUCC website has moderated comments for blogs, so distasteful or offensive comments will be removed.]
Blog posts also allow the author to direct readers to specific materials online. You can embed a thought-provoking video, include a graphic or image, even link to news articles, resources, or other blog posts on the web.
Here is an excellent introduction video to how blogs are useful tools.
How long is a blog post? It depends. The majority of blog posts tend to be short — somewhere between 500-700 words (this one is about 660) — but longer posts can work if the topic compels readers to keep reading. Images can often keep a reader interested as well.
Conference Staff as Bloggers
For Conference Staff, a blog post allows staff members to create a valuable resource for colleagues, constituents, or the general public. Pam Arifian's first blog post is an example of a collection of resources – links to many outside sources where readers can find more information on a topic, or find places to engage further in a cause. Michele Mudrick used a blog post to direct readers to places where they could find their legislator and also to sign up to be a part of the CTUCC Advocate Corp.
Once a post is created, the URL address can be shared on social media, or through email. It's a simply way to collect specific information in one place and have it available for many to see. The post does not go away, so it is there to re-share if needed. Blogs can also be edited and update with information. If a reader clicks the author's name, a list of blog posts appears below their name in chronological order. Posts can also be searched by topic. [Go to http://www.ctucc.org/blogs and click on "Justice and Witness"]
Can you be a blogger if you are not Conference Staff?
Absolutely. We are happy to publish guest posts on our site that relate to Conference issues, especially where they reference church vitality. We've had guest posts from pastors and lay leaders. To submit a blog, simply email me or Tiffany Vail. Don't forget to include addresses to anything you want linked. If you want to send an image, just attach it to the email, but please don't paste it into the email. Attachments work much better.
Copyright and Blogging
One concern that Blogging raises in the issue of copyright. Copyright protects "original works of authorship," including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and other intellectual works. To fully understand copyright takes a law degree, or at least a blog post for another time. It is sufficient to say, if you didn't create it yourself, someone else did. Even if you found something online, it is probably still protected. If you want to share something, be sure you give credit to the original author. If you can't, don't post it. One solution: share a link to materials that may be copyrighted, rather than copying them and inserting them into a blog post. Here is a guide to copyright basics produced by the U.S. Copyright Office.
Blogging — just one more way the Conference is serving congregations.
Drew Page is the Media and Data Manager for the Southern New England Conference, and a member of the Conference's Communications Team. He writes and edits news, blogs, and devotionals, produces video, and spends a week each summer as a Dean at Silver...