By Julian Dierkes
Mongolia Focus is facing a challenge! In all likelihood, due to COVID-19, none of our core team will be able to travel to Mongolia for the campaign, nor for the election itself.
Help us, dear readers, by being our eyes and ears, but even more importantly, if you read our posts regularly, please think about writing during the campaign/around the election!
Our blog’s glorious history has spanned the last four national elections 2012, 2013, 2016, 2017. That’s why there’s an item for Elections in our menu bar. We have been very interested in elections as a moment when democratization crystallizes around a month-long event, and readers have been very interested to read analyses and observations about the election in English. Some of our past analyses have been possible from a distance (election platforms can be analyzed from afar), but other aspects have depended on one or (usually) more of us being in-country. A presence on the ground is especially important to get a feeling for voters’ and campaigners’ mood, to be able to observe campaign events and get a feeling for the personalities of candidates, and to be able to ask questions. This aspect will be missing almost certainly from our writing for the 2020 parliamentary election.
Writing for Mongolia Focus
Obviously, we will still do all the things we can do at a distance, because even more so as we will be eager to follow the campaign as it unfolds online and in documents even more.
But, we are also hoping that some of our regular readers might be inspired to take the leap from consumer of our analyses to contributor.
We are therefore eagerly hoping for expressions of interest, pitches, draft posts from all of you.
We hope that writing a guest post will be attractive to you because a) it contributes to greater understanding of Mongolian developments internationally (though we also have many readers within Mongolia, something we’ve always been proud of, i.e. many of you are interested in our analyses even though they appear in English and are somewhat removed from on-the-ground developments), b) you might be interested in this kind of analysis and writing, submitting a blog post might thus be a personal/professional development opportunity for you, and c) we have built credibility and thus an audience for our blog.
What Could We Be Looking For
Over the almost nine years of blogging, we have been scrupulously independent and non-partisan. That is an absolute precondition to publishing any guest posts. As an author, of course you have political opinions and you might even support a particular party or candidate, but in offering observations or analyses, you have to be aware of these preferences yourself and reflect on them as you write. Our analyses are only useful when most readers do not spend more time speculating about the conspiracies that we are a part of than actually engaging with analyses.
Most interesting during the election season will be topics such as the following:
- analyses of campaign platforms
- what campaign themes resonate with voters and why
- regional aspects of campaigning, particular Ulaanbaatar vs. towns vs. countryside
- gender balance of candidates and its meaning to voters
- implications of campaign themes for future policy
- trends in campaigning, esp. use of social media
- curios like the prominence of wrestlers and singers among candidates
- campaign finance
- impact of voting system on campaigns/outcomes
- involvement of volunteers, role of party membership
- role of the media
- signs of patterns in policies, or ideologies in campaigns
- attitudes toward neighbours, international relations
- and so on.
If you are a regular reader, you know that we often publish posts written by guest authors. These are always marked by “Guest Post” in the title of the post and they always include an “About the Author” paragraph at the end of the post.
Our posts have generally been around 800 words or so, but there is no hard minimum or maximum. When posts get too long, I often suggest that they are broken up into multiple posts instead.
As a general rule, the more specific a post, the better as more specific aspects are more interesting to our readers. Assume that almost all readers are roughly aware of contemporary developments in Mongolia, it is a semi-specialist audience in our mind. That is a bit less true during elections, as some people who might usually not follow political developments closely, especially from abroad, might be more interested, but even then, posts do not have to start with basic explanations. No, “Mongolia is a scrappy democracy landlocked between two giants, Russia and China”.
- structure, i.e. subheadings, etc.
- images, but we generally include them via embedding social media posts (esp. Twitter and Instagram) as we don’t have to have a giant filing system for images within WordPress
- quotes, whether by embedding social media posts or otherwise
- Mongolian. Feel free to include specific terms or even statements in original Mongolian (Cyrillic rather than romanized) and offer translations in parentheses
- authors who regularly read our posts as they will have a good sense of what we like
Don’t Be Shy
If you have an idea for writing, let us know!
If you’re interested in writing, but you feel like you’re “just a regular Mongolian”, “just an undergraduate students”, or “just a volunteer election observer”, delete “just” from all those thoughts. While you may not provide a data-driven sophisticated academic analysis, your perspective may well be of great interest to many readers.
If you’re worried about writing in English, we can help. We won’t re-write entire posts, but we can certainly help polish.
If you’re worried about whether an idea is appropriate for the blog or not, don’t worry, ask! We’ll let you know! Obviously, you will have to follow Mongolian law (as unclear as it can be on campaign analyses, etc.) and we have generally not posted anonymous writing in the past.
Aspiring Journalists and Social Scientists, Especially
Journalists and social scientists, in particular, are the people we all look to for political analyses. If you are starting out as a journalist, or perhaps mostly active in Mongolian, but can write in English, or if you’re a senior undergraduate or graduate student maybe thinking about a thesis topic, we would especially welcome posts from you. Writing is a craft and requires practice, so if you have any ambition to write in English, we hope that a blog post might be useful practice for you, and inform all of us.
For an initial question/idea, please get in touch with julian.dierkes|at|ubc.ca