about  /   archives  /   contact  /   subscribe  /   twitter    
Share this entry
Make this entry better

What are we missing? Is there a key link we skipped, or a part of the story we got wrong?

Let us know — we’re counting on you to help Encyclo get better.

Put Encyclo on your site
Embed this Encyclo entry in your blog or webpage by copying this code into your HTML:

Key links:
Primary website:
elfaro.net
Primary Twitter:
@_ElFaro_

Editor’s Note: Encyclo has not been regularly updated since August 2014, so information posted here is likely to be out of date and may be no longer accurate. It’s best used as a snapshot of the media landscape at that point in time.

El Faro is the first web-only news organization launched in Central America, and it is based in El Salvador.

It was founded in 1998, as an independent alternative to traditional media outlets, then perceived as highly partisan or corrupt. The original idea was it to be a printed newspaper, but its founders -Carlos Dada and Jorge Siman- didn’t have enough money to run an expensive operation like producing and distributing a daily paper.

What Dada and Siman did have was experience working with Internet, so they decided to launch a website while they could afford to print El Faro. It was a risky idea because in 1998, only 2% of El Salvador’s population had access to the Internet.  It was risky, too, because back then most of the newspapers websites were just a mere copy of the printed edition. So, why would you want to produce original content for the Internet? It was more a matter of principles than of  business (although the founders wanted El Faro to be self-sustainable.)

El Faro (The Beacon) started to shed light over issues constantly overlooked by mainstream media. However, the business model didn’t take off from there. During 5 years, El Faro relied on unpaid staff and on Journalism students who wanted to learn from Dada, a well respected reporter in El Salvador.

During that period of time, Dada and Siman agreed not to accept funds from NGO’s. El Faro didn’t want to depend solely on one source of funding because other media outlets that did so, were not able to continue working after the foundations drew the support. Finally, the website accepted – and still does – money from aid agencies, (like the Open Society Foundations) but only to develop specific projects (elections coverage, e.g.)

El Faro is not profitable but it attracts advertisers. The challenge is big because they cannot compete with newspapers that give advertisers free web ads when they buy ads on the printed edition. However, according to Dada, up to 50% of the website expenses is covered with advertising money.  That revenue stream has helped hiring reporters, editors and photographers. In 2012, the newsroom is formed by 20 members.

The main focus of this news organization is investigative reporting, but also shows how much you can do with very few resources.

Peers, allies, & competitors:

Recent Nieman Lab coverage:
Nov. 20, 2023 / Hanaa' Tameez
Nieman Lab now has a WhatsApp Channel — Starting today, you can get updates from Nieman Lab through our new WhatsApp Channel. For years, news publishers have been using WhatsApp in all sorts of interesting ways to share news, build communities, and debunk misi...
Nov. 20, 2023 / Joshua Benton
What does OpenAI’s rapid unscheduled disassembly mean for the future of AI? — Forgive media companies if they felt a little schadenfreude this weekend. For the past two decades, they’ve been criticized (often rightly, sometimes wrongly) for making terrible management decisions in the face of...
Nov. 20, 2023 / Hanaa' Tameez
“Everybody’s sense of emotion and devastation is heightened”: How Jewish Currents is covering the Israel-Hamas war — Earlier this month, Mari Cohen reported on how the 92nd Street Y, a New York City cultural center, canceled a scheduled event after the slated speaker signed an open letter calling for an end to the violence in Gaza. “...
Nov. 16, 2023 / Sophie Culpepper
In 2023, bright spots in local news stand out against a grim landscape — When the Medill Local News Initiative released its rigorous State of Local News 2022 report last June, the team behind it found that the country was losing two newspapers per week (mostly weeklies), and had lost 2,500 ne...
Nov. 16, 2023 / Sarah Scire
The Washington Post takes the “unusual step” of publishing graphic photos from mass shootings — Could newsrooms publishing photos from mass shootings help stop them? The question has been asked before, but the deaths of 19 children and two adults at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas seemed to spur a louder-than...

Recently around the web, from Mediagazer:

Primary author: Antonio Jiménez. Main text last updated: June 12, 2014.
Make this entry better
How could this entry improve? What's missing, unclear, or wrong?
Name (optional)
Email (optional)
Explore: PubliCola
PubliCola logo

PubliCola is an online local news organization in Seattle that focused on local and state politics and government reporting. It briefly folded in 2012 but reopened a month later as part of SagaCity Media’s Seattle Met. The site — its nickname was “Seattle’s News Elixir” — was founded by Josh Feit with Sandeep Kaushik in January 2009,…

Put Encyclo on your site
Embed this Encyclo entry in your blog or webpage by copying this code into your HTML:

Encyclo is made possible by a grant from the Knight Foundation.
The Nieman Journalism Lab is a collaborative attempt to figure out how quality journalism can survive and thrive in the Internet age.
Some rights reserved. Copyright information »