When two of six co-founding journalists of Revista Late met at the Festival for the Gabriel García Márquez Journalism Award in October 2016, they felt that their visions and expectations toward journalism would lead them to create something together.
Daniel Wizenberg, of Argentina, and Diego Cazar, of Ecuador, invited four colleagues from different Latin American countries (Cuba, Mexico, Colombia and Chile) to join them. After months of conversations via Skype, five of these members traveled a total 12,155 miles to Bogota, Colombia to make this project a reality.
Revista Late, the “first continental media without a newsroom,” was officially launched on March 14 in Bogotá after a week of face-to-face work in a rented house in the Colombian capital. A day after the launch, Wizenberg sees the project like a new house to which they’ll need to add value.
“Giving it a meaning, valuing everything that was done up to yesterday [March 14] which was the construction process,” Wizenberg said in conversation with the Knight Center.
According to Yasna Mussa, a Chilean journalist and co-founder of Late, the magazine seeks to be a “vindication” for the region and to narrate stories of the world with a Latin American perspective.
“It was born to vindicate what is Latin American. Both the journalism we do as Latin Americans and the stories that occur in Latin America ,” Mussa told the Knight Center. “But also to be able to gather reporters that belong to this continent and that are distributed throughout the world and for them to tell stories from other areas of the globe, but with a common way of telling stories as Latin Americans.”
However, its goals go far beyond this. During their conversations on Skype, the journalists noticed that they shared a sorrow for current journalism that only seeks to win the war of clicks, sacrificing quality in the fight. Tired of the “junk food” content that abounds, especially on the internet, they decided to offer through their magazine a “dish that was healthy and gourmet at the same time."
In this way, its name is not only a deduction from the words “Latinoamérica Escribe” (Latin America Writes), but also represents the stories that are “beating” (the Spanish verb latir means to beat or throb) and are often waiting to be told, but are ignored by media outlets.
That is why they seek to tell “elemental stories” represented in their four sections: water, air, fire and earth. The “fifth element” is composed of investigations that they do together in a coordinated way with the different collaborators they have in the world. Everything is from the Latin American perspective.
“More than themes, we go for stories. They are good stories that have conflict, that propose something, that give knowledge. That’s the kind of profile we’re betting on,” Mussa said. “It doesn’t matter which country the story is from or the topic, if it’s a story of life, of human rights, of even of football. It has to convey something, to propose something new. What matters is the quality of the text.”
Its stories focus on narrative journalism. But as a digital native media outlet, the magazine also makes use of the different technological tools at its disposal. It will have text, podcasts, videos, audiovisual reports and will even incorporate cinema technology.
In one of the first stories published by the digital magazine, Mussa interviewed Leila Khaled in Jordan. Khaled is a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and is known as the first woman to hijack an airplane.
In Guerrero, Mexico, Alejandro Saldivar tells the story of Jonás, one of the 43 missing students from the Normal School of Ayotzinapa, to call attention to the fact that the case continues in impunity.
These stories are published in the “air” and “fire” sections, respectively.
In the magazine’s first podcast, the founders explain the origins of the online publication.
In addition to Wizenberg, Cazar and Mussa, the other co-founders are Mónica Rivero, of Cuba, and Alejandro Saldívar, of Mexico. Together with Eel María Angulo and Giovanni Jaramillo, both from Colombia, they form the Late editorial board.
“We have a horizontal platform. We are all editors and reporters. We do not want to lose our reporting role, of putting our feet in the mud, because we believe that gives much more weight to the work. And together we review the text and make our contributions,” said Mussa, for whom the exercise has also allowed the exploration of the richness in the Spanish language by highlighting differences in each country.
Bearing in mind that they are the main reporting team, for now their goal is to have at least one piece of “hard content” each week. But they expect more stories to come.
That prospect doesn’t seem too far away. According to Wizenberg, the feedback received during the launch as well as comments received during the first few hours online were very positive.
“The idea that there is a different space, an interesting space for the journalist on foot, for the one who proposes good stories to tell, for the reporter, a Latin American specifically, who is scattered throughout the world where he can publish and where he publishes not only the work that he does but he shares it with other journalists in the editing, working the stories collectively, and that seems to be the most interesting and that was what were looking for. And in this first day after the event, it’s what we are getting,” Wizenberg added.
The goal is that in a year, they will have at least one writer in each Latin American country, according to Wizenberg.
The Editorial Board met for the first time and in-person this March in Colombia. But just like their preparation meetings, their editorial meetings will be through video conferences because the magazine will continue without a headquarters.
But for Mussa, this will not only be a characteristic, but one of its biggest advantages because “we are not in any country, but we are in all.”
After its launch, the team will focus not only on content, but also on strengthening its different sources of financing. In its first year of “transition,” the capital of Late will be its work.
However, they are clear that they want to have four or five methods of financing the project. One of these is the Late Store, which, for now, offers “very basic” products. But they are also developing what will be the Late School.
The Late School is offering its first free online workshop. The objective is to charge for these workshops that involve journalists and professors of the region and will be open to any person interested in international issues or in how to tell a story.
“We are very happy because what we see is the possibility that there is a cross-border Latin American media outlet of journalists. Where journalists can really have power over the issue, over financing of the media outlet,” Wizenberg concluded. “It is a media outlet that tries to be profitable without being profitable for an owner but for a network of professionals.”
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.