Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Mich Café is Cloud961’s Blog of the Month

Mich Café was chosen as "Blog of the Month" in Cloud961’s fourth issue.

Cloud961 -- the 961 being the telephone code to dial Lebanon --  is a Lebanese monthly magazine covering the world of social media, blogging and the socio-digital industry.

It is the first interactive publication in the MENA region reaching out to the digital community and developed by the leaders and stakeholders of that community.

The following is the feautured piece about Mich Café and a few questions I answered to Cloud961’s Paul Gadalla:
* * * * *

If you Google places like Bourj Hammoud, Hamra, or Oyyoun el Samak you'll most definitely come across Mich Café. Voted Lebanon's most popular lifestyle blog at this year's Social Media Awards, Micheline Hazou's blog has managed to pull in readers as she bounces back between life in Lebanon, the Middle East and all the small moments in between.

Her posts have taken readers from the falafel shops of Hamra to the lives of Armenian Genocide survivors to road trips up to Akkar. Having worked in news, she knows how to craft a story and elaborate on many cultural experiences and traditions in the region that we often forget and take for granted.

So what's behind the title, why the café?
Once upon a time, social media was very simple. On Twitter for example, we greeted each other every morning, chatted a lot and invited each other for virtual coffees… at Mich Café. And a hashtag [on Twitter] was created for the virtual coffee shop. At first I was reluctant to start a blog. I didn't know what I would write. I kept putting it off, telling myself I would start it when I found a good name. Then my friend Pascal Assaf said what better name than Mich Café for the blog and pushed me to start it. Other friends joined in. Naeema Zarif designed the header and Abir Ghattas added the Arabic calligraphy. Also, I have always wanted -- and would still like -- to own a café. Maybe one day there will be a real Mich Café.

A lot of your posts bring to life the spices and aromas of the Middle East. Are you proud to be from the region?
Of course. I am proud of being Arab.

Do you think your experience in news has helped shape your blog?
It has certainly taught me to write responsibly. To always check my facts. To link sources and always give credit where it is due.

Your posts can be very compelling, and often pull the reader into your journeys. Do you think having lived in multiple countries contributed to this?
Possibly. The most important thing for me is to write from the heart. I am very passionate about Mich Café. I think of what I could write about all the time, wherever I am and whatever I see.

Sometimes your posts are very personal, even touching on personal subjects like the loss of loved ones. Do you feel bloggers should open up more?
It depends on the blog and the blogger. Blogs are personal. They reflect the views of the blogger, unlike newspapers and magazines that reflect the view of the publisher. Personally, I can only write about something I am interested in and feel strongly about.

You're also quite popular on Twitter, do you think your Twitter presence helped promote the blog?
I don't know about being popular, but definitely Twitter and Facebook help promote a blog. Without Social Media it is more difficult to reach a wide audience.

* * * *

Cloud961 aims to become a platform of interaction and opinion-sharing between bloggers, social media activists, social media managers, digital marketing professional, IT and Telecom policymakers, the international digital community and more.

It hopes to play a leading role in connecting the digital community by organizing regular tweet-up events, professional conferences and partnerships with initiatives and events covering its field of expertise and reaching out to its target audience.

The magazine is available free-of-charge in digital format through its online platform as well as in a print edition distributed to subscribers.

This year, Cloud961 hopes to expand by covering Saudi Arabia (Cloud966) and the UAE (Cloud971).

You can read Cloud961 online or download it here.

Thanks Cloud961 for featuring Mich Café.