Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Few news entrepreneurs in Latin America make money

Versión en español aquí.

A study of 54 independent journalism sites in Latin America has found that 20% of these new ventures produce no revenue.

What’s more, only one-fourth of the for-profit operations are covering their costs. Most did not do a financial viability study before launch and less than half are taking advantage of social media.

Those are some of the findings of a survey of new journalism initiatives conducted by the prestigious New Journalism Foundation for Iberoamerica, as reported on the website of ABC in Spain.

 The three-legged base
These results are not surprising. The typical journalism initiative starts, of course, with journalists. They typically have good intentions but no clue about how to run a business. They really should involve marketing and technical people from the beginning. 
The new model for newsroom organization is not a hierarchy but a three-cornered partnership -- journalists, programmer-designers and marketing-salespeople. All three are essential and need to be involved in all the decisions. There can be an ethical Chinese wall to protect the integrity of the editorial product, but there has to be daily contact and consulting among all three areas.

Not social enough

Of the media in the survey, only two in five were using platforms like Facebook and Twitter to spread the word about their content and attract traffic. The sites averaged slightly less than 2,000 visits a day. 

The sites generally have little success selling advertising, in part perhaps they are not generating enough high-quality content, the survey showed. 

Another problem cited by the news entrepreneurs was the difficulty in finding quality employees. One suspects that, given the difficulties they have generating revenue, the compensation offered must be low or nonexistent.

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