Saturday, February 13, 2016

Latin America spawns scores of innovative news sites

Latin America has spawned a rich breed of online news publishers who are challenging mainstream journalism. These digital natives have achieved significant influence by innovating with digital tools.

They often aim to provide an alternative to the traditional voice of mainstream media, which are usually linked to political and business interests that have long predominated in these countries.

"Digital-ness" of highly influential websites. 
These are among the findings of a new study of 67 native-born digital news publications by Ramon Salaverria of the University of Navarra (Spain) and Summer Harlow of Florida State University. The study, published in the journal Digital Journalism, is an ambitious effort to measure the innovation, influence, and goals of these 67 digital natives -- "Regenerating Journalism: Exploring the 'alternativeness' and 'digital-ness' of Online-Native Media in Latin America". 

And while the scholars have not set out to create  a viral listicle a la Buzzfeed, they have created two tables in their article with fascinating detail, one of which I have condensed (at left).

The rankings of "digital-ness" are based on measurement of each site's use of multimedia, interactive elements, and degree of audience participation. All 10 listed here were rated as "highly influential" by the researchers, based on measuring their per-capita Facebook and Twitter following and their global ranking in the Alexa audience measurement service.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

From Poynter, 25 ideas for nonprofit newsrooms

Note: This blog post from Poynter Institute is used with permission. I think it is a particularly well stated summary of key points digital news entrepreneurs need to keep in mind. A Spanish version was translated by Ética Segura of the New Journalism Foundation of Iberoamerica. - James

Diversify revenue streams. Train from within. Make the most of metrics. Sometimes the simplest ideas can be the most effective.

A small group from Poynter visited a dozen nonprofit and for-profit news organizations in 2015 to gather information to share at this week's Nonprofit News Exchange. Here are 25 ideas, observed at many of the places we visited, that anyone can apply to his or her own newsroom.

1. Know your mission. As you build your team, look for staffers that buy into your mission and keep communicating the big point of your venture clearly. This is an advantage startups have over legacy outlets attempting transformation and struggling to bring staffers along.

2. Start with a fresh idea. A good editorial concept, fresh and serving an unmet audience need, is critical. This will need refining as you go along, but what you are doing needs to stand on its own or no amount of tweaking will save it.

3. Train from within. Data journalism specialists are critical to generating high-impact investigative stories but might be hard to find or pay for. Look for opportunities to train your own employees and allow them to expand their own expertise and skill sets on the job.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

ProPublica pioneers investigative journalism for the digital age

PAMPLONA, Spain -- Given all the trash, half-truths and outright lies published on digital media, people are placing a higher value on media that verify information and demonstrate high ethical standards.
Paul Steiger, taking questions at U. of Navarra event

Paul Steiger, founder and executive chairman of ProPublica, tells of a major donor to his online publication who "absolutely hated" an investigative story that they had published about a group "near and dear to the donor's heart". Steiger told the donor that the information was verified, and the story was fair. "We will just have to agree to disagree," he told the donor.

The donor, who had given $100,000 every year, stopped giving. And that would have been the end of the story, except that a year later, with no explanation, the donor's annual check arrived again. Steiger's point was that even people who disagree with you still respect journalism with high standards of accuracy and ethics.

Versión en español

He made his comments to students and faculty of the University of Navarra during a series of public presentations and interviews with various media. He described some of the keys to producing effective investigative journalism even while traditional news media have been cutting back on staff and in-depth reporting. (You can see coverage of his talks, in Spanish, from El Español, El Pais, ABC, Público, ElMundo, and Infolibre, along with a Storify of Tweets in English and Spanish.)

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Universities are driving innovation in media

The true role of universities has always been the improvement of society. Developing leaders is a key part of that.

The scholars of universities immerse themselves in the values, ethics, culture, and history of a society and then communicate it to the students.

Those of us in the humanities tend to think of innovation as something that happens outside, in the world of business, especially in the digital world. However, courses in innovation and entrepreneurship have started to take hold in schools of communication.

Versión en español

Beyond commercialization

For academics, who seek knowledge for its own sake, there is something slightly perverse or unclean in considering their work from the point of view of its application in the business world. But innovation goes far beyond mere monetization.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Paywalls and micropayments start to gain traction

The loss of advertising and the complications of public funding are forcing digital publishers to look for ways to persuade the public to pay.

Surveys and actual market behavior show that a small percentage of digital users will pay, depending on the country, the media brand, payment systems, and technology platforms. For some publishers, that could be the difference between thriving and merely surviving.

(Versión en español)

The amounts some would be willing to pay are in the chart below, from Reuters Institute’s 2015 online survey of 24,000 users in 12 countries.

From Newman et al., Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2015 (p. 65). 
Click on chart to enlarge.


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Innovative podcasts and the future of journalism

Olga Ruiz: Create something unique.
PAMPLONA, Spain -- In August of 2013, Olga Ruiz returned from a refreshing summer vacation ready to start her 16th season on the COPE radio network in Barcelona.

But on her arrival, the managers told her and her team that they were being fired. "The best period in my professional life began the moment they fired me," she told me. "They gave me a second life in journalism."

Two weeks later, she invited her old team and some other journalists to her home for dinner. They decided to launch a new radio organization with long-form stories of up to 30 minutes on topics ignored or treated superficially by mainstream media. They would devote obsessive attention to the quality of the sound.

Versión en español

Thursday, December 3, 2015

An investigative journalist leaps from print to digital



Oscar Castilla: "You have to think about the business model"
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Oscar Castilla spent 12 years at El Comercio, Peru's most important daily newspaper, honing his reporting skills with investigations of organized crime and corruption. 

Versión en español


Then in 2014, Castilla and some colleagues from the investigative unit decided to leave the paper for editorial reasons. "The editor at the time had one view of journalism and we had another," he told me in an interview. "We wanted to do some innovative things and the organization was against it."

So they decided to launch their own news publication online, Ojo Público (Public Eye). Their first investigation about conflicts of interest among the mayors in metropolitan Lima was honored in Barcelona in June with a Data Journalism Award from the Global Editors Network.