Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Scratch Magazine was profitable, but it’s still shutting down — here’s what its founder learned
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
March 14, 2012, 10 a.m.

How are online media connected in Colombia?

A recent survey shows online media is a relatively young, and growing, industry in Colombia that shares many of the same tendencies and challenges as the United States.

Online-native news operations share a dependent, interconnected relationship with one other, linking, excerpting, and building on one another’s work. It’s that structure that lends itself to people using terms like “ecosystem” when they talk about the state of online media. But if I remember my high school biology right, most ecosystems are clearly defined by their borders and the species and subspecies that live within them. We need a chart. Or at least a good map.

And it turns out, we now have one, at least for Colombia. A collection of journalism and media organizations in Colombia have finished what they believe is the first comprehensive study that shows who the players are in online media, how they operate, and the ways these different sites are all connected.

The report, “Periodismo digital en Colombia: El quien y el comma de los nuevos medios” (“Digital journalism in Colombia: The who and how of new media” — it’s in Spanish), surveys nearly 400 media sites from around the country to learn more about their production, coverage areas, and perhaps most importantly, business plans. The creators of the report, including current Nieman Fellow Carlos Eduardo Huertas, see the study as the first real map of online media in the country. It’s also a glimpse at how, as many differences as there are among media around the world, some things are universal. For instance, you won’t be surprised to learn that Colombian media rely on social media to drive traffic to content, with the majority of sites having presences on YouTube and Facebook (just edging out Twitter 58 percent to 56 percent).

So what else we know? For starters, 74 percent of the websites in the survey launched between 2001 and 2010. Of course that in some ways mirrors the U.S., where incumbent newspapers, magazines and TV stations had a presence on the web in the 90s, but real growth of online news took place in the last decade. In the Colombian survey, the majority of sites are still tied to traditional outlets — 88 of the 391 sites (22 percent) are online-only organizations.

Colombian outlets have the same issues with generating digital revenue as the U.S. counterparts. The report says online advertising remains an elusive target for news sites, with many organizations relying on subscription dollars as well as revenue from training programs. (One interesting tidbit: 67 percent of the sites were launched with less than 5 million pesos, which is roughly US$2,800.)

One of the most fascinating parts of the report is that it shows the connections between the various media outlets, essentially illustrating the role each plays on a macro and micro level. While much of online media is concentrated in the capital of Bogota, sites also cover areas like Antioquia, Vall de Cauca, and Santander, with a focus that you could probably call (hyper)local. At a broader level, what the report shows is that many of these sites, whether local, national, or niche, share a level of interconnectedness. For example, El Tiempo, the country’s largest newspaper, acts as a kind of hub for daily general news, while La Silla Vacía (founded by ex-Nieman Fellow Juanita León) is the facilitator of government and politics news.

The report is well worth looking (make sure you brush up on your Spanish or have good translation software) at if you’ve got an interest in the growth of online media in Colombia or Latin America and what commonalities exist between the U.S. media and the rest of the world.

POSTED     March 14, 2012, 10 a.m.
SHARE THIS STORY
   
Show comments  
Show tags
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
Scratch Magazine was profitable, but it’s still shutting down — here’s what its founder learned
Scratch Magazine toed the line between “servicey and intellectual,” cofounder Manjula Martin says. That was one reason the paywalled site didn’t make much money.
Newsonomics: On end games and end times
Can publishers find a sustainable business model this new age of Facebook/Apple/Snapchat/Twitter/Google distributed content? And is local news destined to be left behind?
What Scribd’s growing pains mean for the future of digital content subscription models
It turns out that ebook subscription models don’t work very well when people read too much. So what happens next?
What to read next
2843
tweets
A blow for mobile advertising: The next version of Safari will let users block ads on iPhones and iPads
Think making money on mobile advertising is hard now? Think how much more difficult it will be with a significant share of your audience is blocking all your ads — all with a simple download from the App Store.
1763For news organizations, this was the most important set of Apple announcements in years
A new Flipboard-clone with massive potential reach, R.I.P. Newsstand, and news stories embedded deeper inside iOS — it was a big day for news on iPhones and iPads.
762Newsonomics: 10 numbers that define the news business today
From video to social, from mobile to paywalls — these data points help define where we are in the “future of news” today, like it or not.
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Encyclo is our encyclopedia of the future of news, chronicling the key players in journalism’s evolution.
Here are a few of the entries you’ll find in Encyclo.   Get the full Encyclo ➚
Amazon
McClatchy
DNAinfo
The Philadelphia Inquirer & Daily News
BBC News
CBS News
Mozilla
Arizona Guardian
El Faro
Zonie Report
The Bay Citizen
Austin American-Statesman