Knight Center’s e-books reach thousands of journalists in the Americas: 200,000 downloads and counting

E-books published by the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas in English, Spanish and Portuguese have already been downloaded nearly 200,000 times, read and shared by thousands of journalists, journalism students and professors all over the Western hemisphere.

The topics range from How to Write for the Web to Coverage of Drug Trafficking and Organized Crime in Latin America and the Caribbean, helping reporters, editors, educators and future journalists to read about some of the most important issues for news media in this region. The reach of the e-books even goes beyond the approximately 200,000 downloads from the Knight Center website alone, since several other sites also offer the e-books.

“Along with our workshops and seminars, both online and on the ground, the e-books are an essential part of our efforts to bring training and professional development to journalists all over the Americas,” said Professor Rosental Alves, founder and director of the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas. “We have been especially happy to see news organizations in Latin America where print copies of our books have been distributed among journalists, and how our books are adopted in journalism classes in the region.”

The Knight Center's Digital Library offers eight titles that are available in English and Spanish, Spanish and Portuguese and in one case, Journalism 2.0: How to Survive and Thrive, in all three languages.

Leading the way is Guillermo Franco's e-book, How to Write for the Web, which has been downloaded from the Knight Center’s Digital Library more than 55,000 times in its Spanish version, and more than 20,000 in the Portuguese version. The book can be downloaded also from several other sites that posted copies of the PDF file. It presents practical examples about writing for online publications and was designed to stimulate discussions among Latin American and Caribbean journalists about writing for the web.

"The success of that book is rewarding from a personal point of view," said Franco. "From the institutional point of view, these figures, like the success of other works that have been published by the Knight Center, like Digital Tools for Journalists by Sandra Crucianelli, show an effective way to promote, not only the training of journalists but also, given the egalitarian nature of the internet, all the people who are dedicated to generating content: social organizations, individuals, entrepreneurs, academics and so on."

Franco said an updated version of How to Write for the Web is in the works. "Yes, we are working on a new edition of the book in which we will include new research data from new investigations that reinforce the basic theory of the book, a chapter in which we explore the relationship between the text and search engine optimization, a revision of writing guidelines from nearly all the stylebooks in Latin America that don’t work with the web, a revision of the guidelines for new distribution platforms (cellphones, tablets, etc.)."

Sandra Crucianelli's Digital Tools for Journalists has been downloaded nearly 30,000 times in its original Spanish version in, about 20,000 times in Portuguese, and it has been replicated on other sites, reaching an even bigger audience. Written in Spanish, this e-book is a practical manual geared toward helping journalists understand how to use digital tools in their daily newsgathering.

The amount of downloads has Crucianelli in awe. "Honestly, when I wrote it, I couldn’t imagine this large volume of downloads," she said. "I feel happy and find that this situation will force me to update its content, since digital content is so dynamic and new superior resources or alternatives for existing ones are always appearing."

Crucianelli said the repercussions of her book have "been great because it’s a practical manual with a big list of tools that are not only useful for those that are working in the communication field, but they can be of interest to a more extensive market."

Mark Briggs' Journalism 2.0: How to Survive and Thrive was originally published in English by the J-Lab and translated by the Knight Center to Spanish and Portuguese. Both editions have been downloaded nearly 40,000 times so far. Written as a practical manual, Briggs' e-book has become a classic textbook, as an introduction to digital journalism adopted both in newsrooms and classrooms all over the Western hemisphere.

Guillermo Franco, Sandra Crucianelli and Mark Briggs have also taught online courses for the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas that have reached hundreds of journalists in Latin America and the Caribbean. Franco and Crucianelli have also taught on-the-ground workshops in several countries in the past years. They all used their books in those programs.

Besides the journalism manuals, the Knight Center e-books include reports of the annual Austin Forum on Journalism in the Americas, such as Coverage of Drug Trafficking and Organized Crime in Latin America and the Caribbean. The book is a collection of articles by journalists and experts who gathered at the Knight Center in Austin, Texas, in 2010 to discuss the difficult and dangerous job of covering drug trafficking and organized crime throughout the hemisphere.

Journalism in Times of Threats, Censorship and Violence, by Mónica Medel, is a compilation of testimonials of 26 Mexican and American journalists who work in the field covering the war on drugs along the U.S.- Mexico border. The journalists and experts participated in a workshop on the Cross-border Coverage of U.S.–Mexico Drug Trafficking that took place at the Knight Center in Austin on March 26–27, 2010, sponsored by the McCormick Foundation.

“We are really proud to publish books that have reached dozens of thousands of journalists, journalism students and journalism professors in the Americas, especially in countries where books in paper are so expensive and don’t sell that well,” said Professor Alves. “We hope to make more books on journalism available in the next months and years, as part of our contribution to journalists who want to improve the quality of journalism in this hemisphere.”