Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Demand for entrepreneurial journalism training is multilingual, international

One in six U.S. residents is of Hispanic or Latino origin. Half consume news in Spanish.
This post was prepared for sharing at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism Entrepreneurial Journalism Educators Summit July 10. Much of the material is drawn from previous blog posts. 

American universities are leaders in creating programs in entrepreneurial journalism. We could strengthen that position by reaching out to Hispanic communities in the U.S., which is one-sixth of the U.S. population (53 million). We could also learn from the many innovations among Spanish speakers in the Americas (418 million).

Potential benefits:

1. Universities could attract more students from Latin America interested in seeing some of the advances taking place in the dynamic U.S. media market.

2. U.S. students with Spanish skill could find opportunities in Hispanic media in the U.S., from the big operators like Univision and Impremedia to the hundreds of small radio, television, newspapers, magazines, and internet media.

3. U.S. students with sufficient language skill could find opportunities to work in Latin American media and study in the region's finest universities.

4. Professors in the U.S. could enrich their courses with examples from Latin America, where difficult political and economic conditions have led to innovation.

5. With a global focus, faculty and students could benefit from international exchanges and guest lectures via Skype, Hangouts, webinars, and other telecommunication aids.

6. Faculty exchanges. More universities around the world want courses taught in English. U.S. professors with specific expertise, such as multimedia and entrepreneurial journalism, are in demand.

Have I missed anything? (Special thanks to Jeremy Caplan, education director at the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at CUNY for suggestions on improving the usefulness of this post.)

recent article in The Atlantic highlighted the potential opportunity in the U.S., where one segment of the news business that is doing rather well is ethnic newspapers, in dozens of languages. Many of them are in Spanish, and one that he profiles is Queens Latino, which publishes both online and in print. 

For this talk, I am going to focus mainly on the Hispanic market since it is the largest and fastest growing in the U.S. and among the fastest growing in the world. We can teach this group and learn from this group. 

Demand for training

A data point to consider: I publish a blog in Spanish on entrepreneurial journalism, where I post articles on how to run a business of media online. Even though it is in Spanish, the U.S. is the 
No. 1 country ranked by visitors. The states with the most visitors are, in descending order, Texas, California, Florida, Virginia, Michigan, and New York. 

So, yes, there is demand among Spanish speakers in the U.S. for entrepreneurial journalism training.

Another data point: Half the Hispanic population in the U.S. consumes the news in both English and Spanish, according to a study by Pew Research. Even among the college-educated Hispanic population, close to half still consume some news in Spanish. 

In other words, Spanish language media have a significant audience in the U.S. 

Advertisers seek the Hispanic audience

There are revenue sources for these media. Advertisers spent nearly US$8 billion in Hispanic media in the U.S. in 2012, which was up 11% from the year before and up more than 300% from 2003, according to Ad Age's Hispanic Fact Pack

Top advertisers in the Hispanic market: Retailers, automotive, telecom.
While doing research for a consulting job in Florida last year, I saw that the big advertisers seeking to reach Hispanic businesses were banks, health insurers, telecom services, insurance companies, and investment products -- IRAs, mutual funds, and the like. They were spending money with Hispanic chambers of commerce and very small media, not just the big media and television.

Some innovators in Latin America

Let's shift the focus now to Latin America, where it is harder to do entrepreneurial journalism. The region lacks our huge network of foundations and nonprofit organizations that have stepped in to support independent media in some cities in the U.S. It is harder to start any kind of independent business in the region for want of venture capital, weak court protections, bureaucratic red tape, and a tightly linked oligarchy of political, economic, and media powers that squeeze out small competitors.  

Despite that, there have been some notable innovators:

Mi Voz clients include banks, universities, retailers, telecoms.
Mi Voz (My Voice) of Chile is a community of websites that has innovated in its revenue model, its socially oriented content, and its use of citizen contributors. The group is getting 6 million visits a month to its chain of daily news websites in 15 cities up and down the length of the country. It was generating US$2 million a year at last report.

The MiVoz websites are the anti-Buzz Feed. They avoid writing about celebrities and sensational crime. They focus on issues relevant to the residents of the communities they serve: education, health care, human rights, indigenous culture, the environment, technology, and local government services. 

Most of its content is user-generated. In each of those 15 cities it has several professional journalists who select, edit, and display the content.  The news group earns 16 percent of its revenue from regional advertising, another 26 percent from national ads, 21 percent from community outreach consultant projects, and 37 percent from its social media consultancy and training programs. 

A few others that I think are worth of note, drawn from previous blog entries:

  • La Silla Vacia of Colombia, an investigative journalism website covering power and politics in Colombia,  has survived for five years by combining support from NGOs, some consulting, advertising, sponsorship, events and its club of 550 Super Amigos, who contributed US$32,000 to the cause of independent journalism.
  • Capitales of Costa Rica integrates economic and investment data from four Central American countries and the Dominican Republic. It generates revenue from a freemium model of some information open to the public and some accessible only for US$15 a month, sales of custom research products, and sale of investor investor information pages to some corporations.
  • Betazeta of Chile has 10 verticals generating 10 million visitors a month focused on topics such as tech gadgets and services, food and dining, and green business, among others. The site is shifting from a revenue model that is now 50 percent traditional advertising to one with 40 percent sponsorships and 10 percent editorial services to brands.
  • Animal Politico in Mexico has been averaging close to 4 million unique users and 7 million page views a month with content aimed at millennials, who distrust the traditional media. The founders, including CEO Daniel Eilemberg, launched the project as a Twitter feed to test the concept that there was a market for serious news among young people. 
  • Chumel Torres, a satirical videoblogger in Mexico, has been getting 1 million views for each of his weekly 15-minute shows on YouTube, called El Pulso de la Republica. He  generates revenue from advertising and sponsorships. He specializes in trashing the mainstream media and models his videos after Jon Stewart's The Daily Show. 
Recently I had the opportunity to work as a mentor-consultant in an incubator for new digital media in Buenos Aires, called the Media Factory. There I worked with digital media startups from Argentina, Ecuador, and Venezuela. Each of the media groups received an investment of US$75,000 and is receiving 12 weeks of training, mainly in the areas of business, technology, and audience engagement.

Why invest in startup media in Latin America? The partners in one of the investors in Media Factory  told me they like the fact that there is room for rapid growth in the region since it is, as yet, underdeveloped in Internet access compared to Europe, North America, and much of Asia. 

In addition, the big media in Latin America have been cutting staff and coverage, which leaves a big gap for small media to fill, they believe. 

Why be international and multilingual

So there are really two opportunities here, one in the U.S. and one in the hemisphere. In the U.S., students of journalism could become involved in the Hispanic media in the communities where their university is located. Some of these media are in English, some in Spanish, and a few publish in both. 

Spanish-speaking students would have an opportunity to work with the print, television, and radio outlets in Spanish that exist all over the U.S.

Outside the U.S., as mentioned above, a great deal of innovation is taking place in Latin America, driven in part by the need to be creative in an environment where resources are scarcer and the barriers are higher. Entrepreneurial journalism students could study some of these innovators rather than limiting themselves to models in the U.S. and Europe.

And then, of course, there is Brazil, the giant of South America, which we haven't talked about at all. It has a population of 200 million and the biggest economy in Latin America. The language is Portuguese, a close relative of Spanish. But that is a topic for another day.

Resources, where to start
  • The International Center for Journalists has an excellent website, IJNet.org, with news about journalism fellowships, online training, and innovation in seven languages, English, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Russian, Arabic, and Farsi (Persian). (Disclosure: I have been a contractor for this organization and a recipient of its Knight International Journalism Fellowship).
  • The Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, headed by Rosental Alves, at the University of Texas at Austin, has news, online training, opportunities, and events, in three languages, English, Portuguese, and Spanish.
  • The Institute for Hispanic and International Communication at Texas Tech, headed by Kent Wilkinson, also publishes the International Journal of Hispanic Media
  • Florida International University offers a master's degree in multimedia journalism in Spanish as well as a bilingual master's in journalism with a track in Latin American and Caribbean studies.
  • California State University at Northridge's journalism program offers students the opportunity to work on its bilingual multimedia news outlet, El Nuevo Sol
  • Help me expand this list with your suggestions.
This list, compiled in 2012, includes more than a dozen master's degree programs in Spanish, with cost and curriculum comparisons, as well as eight certificate programs. It is time for an update. 

Journalism organizations to connect with

Here are a few, by no means an exhaustive list:

FNPI.org, the Garcia Marquez Foundation for New Journalism in Iberoamerica, probably the most important journalism training organization in the Spanish-speaking world, based in Cartagena, Colombia, Director General Jaime Abello Banfi. 
FAPE, the Federation of Associations of Journalists in Spain, President Elsa Gonzalez Diaz.
Global Investigative Journalism Network, which has dozens of members, many in Latin America, Executive Director David E. Kaplan.
ABRAJI, the Investigative Journalism Association of Brazil, offers courses, training, events, President Jose Roberto de Toledo. 
IPYS, the Institute for Press and Society, promotes investigative journalism, freedom of the press, access to information, based in Peru and with a branch in Venezuela, President Augusto Alvarez Rodrich; Director of Venezuela chapter is Marianela Balbi. 
Aliados, a group of 10 investigative journalism websites in Latin America. 
FOPEA, the Journalism Forum of Argentina unites teachers and practitioners of journalism and promotes quality journalism through events and training, President Fabio Ladetto. 
CIPER, the Center for Investigative Journalism of Chile, publishes articles and promotes public access to information, President Monica Gonzalez Mujica. 


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