In the digital maelstrom in which journalism has been immersed since the early 2000s, years during which many lessons for survival have been sought and applied on the fly, media have always sought the best strategies to achieve sustainability.
In this effort, and due to the little information that exists in Spanish, two Argentine journalists devised a lesson guide on how to develop products for media in Latin America.
“For us, it was essential to be able to offer a guide based on practice, which took the theory, but adapted it to the real context of the organizations in Latin America. In addition, we tried to make the content flow mimic the product cycle in real life and allow experimentation while going through theory,” Felicitas Carrique, SembraMedia's director of innovation and co-author of the Propulsorio product development guide, told LatAm Journalism Review (LJR).
In addition to the lack of economic sustainability, journalism currently faces two great challenges, distrust and disinformation, the authors of the guide note.
According to Carrique, a focus on audiences and their needs, combined with a vision of technology, business, content and design can help journalists and media in the region achieve reliable, evidence-based journalism that ensures commitment from readers.
“If only those who speak English can [develop products in the media], only those with a privileged education will be able to access these roles. Instead, if we open the game we can make product thinkers with different experiences and origins occupy decision-making positions in the region's media,” Maxi De Rito, co-author of Propulsorio, told LJR.
Carrique and De Rito were selected in 2020 by the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) as professional fellows of its program, “A Digital Path to Entrepreneurship and Innovation for Latin America.” Thanks to this grant, they designed the content plan for the guide.
The journalistic organizations SembraMedia and Velocidad supported Carrique and De Rito for 10 months to convert Propulsorio into an interactive guide.
The guide is self-directed, but has self-assessment activities for those who study it to apply what they have learned to their own projects.
Propulsorio, which seeks to train product managers in media outlets, is structured in eight modules that range from the introduction to the subject, investigation and identification of the target audience, design thinking and product mapping, the design of the product itself and its structure, and the launch and promotion strategy.
Finally, it provides guidance on how to quantitatively and qualitatively analyze the performance of the product already launched, the business model in which it fits and the necessary restructuring of processes.
Each module of the guide includes downloadable exercises, which, according to their authors, can be applied to the experience of a media outlet or to a journalistic project.
“We intend to carry out trainings, workshops and even a course, but we are still exploring what is the best way to teach this content,” De Rito explained.
The spirit of the guide, according to its creators, is to encourage the participation of journalists from different backgrounds and origins, which is why the guide is free and open.