Friday, August 22, 2014

On 5 continents, thousands of digital media startups

Versión en español.

As traditional media organizations cut back on staff and coverage, thousands of new digital media are popping up all over the world to fill the gaps.

I've compiled 14 lists of startups below. Some startups are included on more than one list. Can you think of any lists that I've left out?

Many of the organizations that compile lists also share tutorials, especially on revenue-generating models, to help others launch and sustain their news sites. Sustainability is the Holy Grail. Part of the reason digital media are springing up is because of the gaps left by cuts in coverage and staff at major media (graphic below, from Mark J. Perry's Carpe Diem blog via Clay Shirky's Medium post, "Last Call").

Mark J. Perry's graphic shows newspaper decline. A digital opportunity?

United States

1. The Pew Center has done a study of 178 nonprofit journalism websites with a detailed breakdown of their business models, "Nonprofit Journalism: A Growing but Fragile Part of the U.S. News System."

Gigaom followed up with an analysis of the study, and the Knight Foundation sponsored a roundtable discussion on the topic, with videos of the sessions.

2. J-Lab's Knight Community News Network lists nearly 1,300 sites of this type around the U.S., with some in Canada. The database also shows which projects are no longer active. 

The Network provides a self-help toolkit for community news startups with tutorials on how to use hardware and software.

3. The Columbia Journalism Review's Guide to Online News Startups is a database of some 260 websites in the U.S. with self-reported information on business models, staff, traffic, and content, among other information. There is also a national map showing locations.

4. Michele McLellan has compiled a list of 94 journalism startups in the U.S. (with a few from Micronesia and Guam), and her blog regularly updates their status, including an article about how the Alternative Press is testing a franchise model that now has 30 sites in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. 

Latin America, Spain

5.  The Asociacion de la Prensa de Madrid has compiled a list of 434 news media and other projects launched by journalists in Spain since the media crisis began in 2008. In addition, it produced a study of their characteristics (PDF, in Spanish).

Sports journalism is one of the categories with the most innovation, according to José Luis Rojas Torrijos, a journalist and professor who has assembled from that list 28 publications focused on sports  that have been launched by journalists.

6. Eighteen of Latin America's leading digital web publications are discussed in El Pais of Spain, "El boom de la prensa digital en latinoamerica." That article was based on presentations by and interviews with participants in the Ibero-American Colloquium on Digital Journalism at the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, where they focused on the challenges of achieving sustainability.

7. Prof. Jose Luis Lopez Aguirre of the Universidad Panamericana in Mexico City has published a survey of 48 digital news sites in Mexico, including some from major newspapers, with a focus on how they are using multimedia tools (in Spanish). The report includes an interactive map of the media organizations. It does not include some newer players, such as Animal Politico.

8. Consultant Maria Jose Vazquez Schaich, in collaboration with the Universidad Casa Grande in Ecuador, has compiled a database of 23 entrepreneurial news organizations in Ecuador. The researchers also produced a profile of one of those entrepreneurs, GKillCity (in Spanish).

Schaich is also co-author of the study "Entrepreneurial Journalism Education: Where Are We Now."

9."Independent News Sites in Latin America Form Association" by the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas describes a group of 10 organizations focused on investigative journalism.

Europe, Asia, Africa

10. In Chasing Sustainability on the Net, an international team of scholars looked at the business models used by 69 digital journalism startups in 10 countries, including the U.S., Japan, U.K, Finland, Italy, France, and Spain. Few of them were charging for content, the study found.
They summarized their findings in an article in Nieman Lab, and the Knight Digital Media Center weighed in with its own analysis.

11.  published a survey of 183 hyperlocal news publishers in the U.K. (out of an estimated 500), which found that most are struggling to make ends meet but are having an impact on their communities. 

12. Nicola Bruno and Rasmus Kleis Nielsen did an in-depth study of the business models of nine digital startups in Germany, Italy, and France, with mention of many other digital media in  Survival Is Success: Journalistic Online Start-Ups in Western Europe, published by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (available free in PDF if you register).

13. The U.K. based took a look at the state of independent journalism in an area where it is under attack: "How entrepreneurial journalism is building a local voice in Egypt."

14. The executive summary and endnotes for "Social Media in the Arab World: Leading up to the 2011 Uprisings" (PDF) contain links to bloggers and other digital media who reported on the Arab Spring. Jeffrey Ghannam wrote the report for the Center for International Media Assistance.



  1. James, this piece (ultimately published in Journalism Educator, reviews educators worldwide on media entrepreneurship initiatives:

    And this research project on hyperlocal online news outlets goes beyond the list to provide a geographic/demographic and content analysis of these emerging media sites:


  2. Thank you, Michelle. Both of these have valuable information. The links take the reader much deeper than a listing.