I went downtown to 29th street at 7th Avenue in Manhattan again today for my pre-mission New York briefing. This one was much shorter than the last one. The bad news: MSF New York says "no blogging allowed." Well, it was not quite as cut and dry as as that, but still a major disappointment.
The communications department told me that blogs are "too live." They say some blogs were getting overly specific about daily activities and routines, and they think it has turned into a security risk. I can understand this concern in unstable settings, of course, where there is risk of violence or attack on humanitarian workers. But what about in places like Puerto Barrios, Guatemala? Does it really hurt to describe the pig-grilling routine for our goodbye parties?
Anyway, I discussed the issue a bit more in depth with my HR officer. She said there have also been problems with patient confidentiality. Any American MD who has survived HIPPA knows better than to post pictures or identities of patients. We came to the conclusion that if I blogged only about 'personal things' it might be OK to keep Whatonearthamidoinghere alive. Of course, 99.9% of my 'personal things' are of no interest to anybody. I don't think a list of my souvenir purchases or a detailed description of my new suitcase-on-wheels is worth posting.
I will discuss the issue a bit more with the Head of Mission, who has the final say, I was told. Hopefully I will be able to post a few pics of Kenya and my team. In any case, I will stay away from project specifics and the inner workings of MSF here on blogger. It looks like I will have to save these juicy details for my private journal and hippocampal grey matter.