Independent news sites in Latin America form new association

Ten investigative media platforms from Latin America combined forces to create ALiados, a network to strengthen mutual cooperation and find new ways to sustain independent journalism. ALiados formed in Buenos Aires, on June 15, where representatives from the news sites met to discuss and create its founding document, the Declaration of Al Maitén.

ALiados' founding organizations are Agência Pública (Brazil), Animal Político (Mexico), CIPER (Chile), Confidencial (Nicaragua), El Faro (El Salvador), El Puercoespín (Argentina), IDL-Reporteros (Peru), La Silla Vacía (Colombia), Plaza Pública (Guatemala) and The Clinic (Chile). Although very different from each other, the news sites will have common guidelines, stated in the Declaration, such as: "professional quality, transparency, independence from political and economic influences and factual accuracy on the realities of Latin America and the world in a way that traditional media platforms in the region are not doing it."

Many of ALiado's members know each other and met last May during the 6th Ibero-American on Digital Journalism, where the idea of the association was born. Organized by the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas of the University of Texas in Austin, the Coloquium focused on key questions on digital journalism such as sustainability, revenue diversification, and the expansion of reach and audience traffic.

"It was a productive meeting, with a clear focus on collaboration and sustainability," said Rosental Calmon Alves, director and founder of the Knight Center, who was also present in Buenos Aires for the foundation of ALiado. "Independent news sites from Mexico to Argentina discussed ways to help each other develop strategies for financing the type of quality and professional journalism they do in their countries. The sites are very different from each other, but are united in a common objective: to produce good journalism and contribute to democracy and transparency in their countries."

In order to search for new ways for sustaining investigative digital journalism, ALiados will organize programs and joint initiatives, such as attracting new sources of support from donors and the public. For Gabriel Pasquini, director of the Argentine site El Puercospín and one of the founders of the group, the creation of ALiados "is an inevitable step in the development of digital journalism, especially in a region of the world where we share a language, and in many cases, issues and problems that transcend borders."

The members of the ALiados network are:

  • Agência Pública (Brazil): A digital site dedicated to investigative journalism that primarily covers human rights violations committed during the country's military dictatorship, large investments in the Amazon region, and urban developments related to the 2014 World Cup, which will take pace in Rio de Janeiro.
  • Animal Político (Mexico): A news portal focused on politics that uses a different tone and writing style to cater to a younger audience and differentiate itself from traditional media outlets.
  • CIPER (Chile): The Center of Investigative Journalism (or CIPER in Spanish) is a non-profit organization created to develop investigative reports on the principles of maximum quality and professional integrity.
  • Confidencial (Nicaragua): Founded in 1996 as a informative and analytical weekly, it switched in 2010 to a interactive online news site although it continues its printed version. It focuses on multimedia content along with a television program.
  • El Faro (El Salvador): Created in 1998, almost a decade before the digital revolution took over the reporting industry in the country and just as El Salvador emerged from a violent civil war. It focuses on critical political journalism.
  • IDL-Reporteros (Peru): Primarily addresses issues on political and corporate corruption, organized crime and drug trafficking. Its findings on corruption cases and abuses of power have had a strong impact in Peru.
  • La Silla Vacía (Colombia): One of the main news sites covering Colombian politics. It publishes reports on how power shapes Colombia and the decisive processes that affect the public.
  • Plaza Pública (Guatemala): An online platform focused on analysis, research and debates, the site was founded in 2011 by Rafael Landívar University. It publishes reports on the dynamics of power and their effect on the population.
  • The Clinic (Chile): A mix of political satire and humor with social critiques, the site was originally created in 1998 as a printed pamphlet used to mock former dictator Agusto Pinochet. Now it's the most read magazine in Chile with an equally popular website.
  • El Puercoespín (Argentina): The investigative site launched with the ambition of creating an Argentine outlet for New Yorker-style long-form journalism “to cover the world, not just Argentina.” It has been exploring revenue streams through paid subscribers, who are rewarded with e-books based on the site’s content.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.