Communications: Charity blogger tells story of Lebanon

A charity has beaten off competition from established war correspondents to set up one of the most viewed blogs from Lebanon.

After attending a Media Trust seminar on blogging, Islamic Relief persuaded Jamsheed Din, its media correspondent, to approach the BBC to host his blog.

"Before leaving for Lebanon at the beginning of the month, I called the BBC and asked them if they would be interested in my blog," said Din.

"They agreed, so I really had to worry only about getting the content over to them, and they did the rest."

Din was in Beirut for a week, and each evening he used his laptop to make notes of what he had seen during the day. "In the evenings I would try to find somewhere to email from, which wasn't always easy," he said.

"The internet connection was usually very slow and the computers often crashed, especially when I tried to send images."

Din first set up a blog to document his experience in Pakistan following the Kashmir earthquake last year. Although it received fewer hits, Din saw it as a powerful tool for communicating with the outside world.

"I thought that as someone who was on the ground, going to places that not many people went to, I could give a picture of what was really going on," he said.

Although Din used to be a reporter on the Birmingham Mail, he insists that would-be bloggers need not be experienced writers.

"I don't consider myself a special writer - I just try to write from the heart," he said. "People say my accounts have brought home to them what's going on and made them feel like they were there with me.

"But I've just tried to be me. There's a lot to be said for using simple English."

Paul Caplan, a private consultant who runs new media seminars for the Media Trust, agrees. "You don't have to write like a spin doctor," he said. "The best web content is personal and passionate."

But Din warns that blogging is not necessarily for every charity. "I don't think you could have a blog for every kind of aid project," he said.

"It works best if it's something in the news, because then people are already interested."

Din's blog is archived at www.bbc.co.uk/birmingham under "features".

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