Two weeks ago I had the privilege of listening to colleague, Ndesanjo Macha, illustrate the power of blogging to raise the profile of an organisation or an issue. He gave the following example:
The Southern African Litigation Centre has been working on a groundbreaking court case in Zambia — the first ever case in Zambia to determine whether discrimination by the military on the basis of HIV violates the Zambian Constitution. The case involves two Zambian Air Force employees who are contesting their dismissal, saying they were discriminated against because they were HIV positive.
Priti Patel, a lawyer working for SALC, decided to blog directly from the case — to talk about the issues, but also to describe the legal process for people unfamiliar with how the courts work. You can see the SALC blog here and one of Priti’s first posts here.
Ndesanjo happened to be in Livingstone, where the case was being held, so he helped Priti set up the blog. But it also struck him that this was something unique – somebody blogging directly from a court case. So since he works for Global Voices Online, Ndesanjo also interviewed Priti for a story on the site. (If you don’t know it, Global Voices Online is a great site featuring blogs and lesser-known voices from around the world – and increasingly its stories are being picked up by the international mainstream media.)
As a result a week or two after Priti began blogging on the case, if somebody did a Google search for ‘Zambia HIV’, the article on Priti would come up on the first page of search results, and if somebody searched for ‘Zambia HIV Court’, the Global Voices Online article on Priti’s blog came up number one, with the SALC site coming up number 3 on Google. As of this posting, that’s still happening.
By the way, the case was postponed, and is due to resume on the 15th of July.