Monday, November 23, 2015

An investigative journalist who thinks like a capitalist

Martin Rodriguez Pellecer of Nomada
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- You usually don't hear an investigative journalist talk about the importance of learning business skills.

But that is the case with Martin Rodriguez Pellecer, 32, founder of two notable digital news media organizations in Guatemala, Plaza Publica and Nomada, the latter launched last year.

Versión en español

"The most difficult thing for a journalist is to think like a capitalist, to realize that you have to invest and put money on the line", he told me in an interview. "You have to be flexible; you can't wed yourself to just one thing. You have to have lots of eggs in different baskets. No successful capitalist has just one line of business; all of them have lots of businesses." 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Investigative journalists form alliance in Latin America

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- The United States has been the world's biggest market for just about everything, including illegal drugs, and that creates big problems for its neighbors.

Carla Minet

Versión en español

So much money from the drug trade flows into Mexico, South America, and the Caribbean that it corrupts governments, courts, police, armed forces, trade regulators, and other institutions that were not that strong to begin with.

The result is that many of these countries are ruled, de facto, by the whims of organized crime and not in the public interest. Criminal organizations have gone global, and investigative journalists need to go global as well in order to expose this corruption and serve their communities better. 

Cross-border cooperation was the big takeaway from a three-day meeting of investigative journalists from 17 countries in San Juan, Puerto Rico, November 4-6. Billed as "The First Caribbean Meeting of Investigative Journalists: Tracking the Stories that Connect Us" (in Spanish), one aim was to create a counterweight to the power of organized crime by cooperating across borders, according to Carla Minet, executive director of the host organization, the Center of Investigative Journalism of Puerto Rico. Sponsors included the Ford Foundation and Open Society Foundations.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Media innovators inspire hope around the world

A year ago I wrote an article about digital media startups around the world and attempts to categorize and analyze them. Some of that material is now a bit dated, and I have come across some other analyses and lists that have good road maps for media entrepreneurs.

The Open Society Foundations has sponsored a series of studies. One of them is Publishing for Peanuts: Innovation and the Journalism Startup, by JJ Robinson, Kristen Grennan, and Anya Schiffrin of the Columbia University School of International and Political Affairs.

The study takes an in-depth look at 35 "innovative media outlets" producing high-quality news that have a chance at long-term survival. Researchers have often neglected examples outside of Europe and North America, so this study included examples from South Africa, China, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Egypt, and Bosnia Herzegovina, among others.