Online media leading "quiet revolution" in Colombia, new study notes

In its first study of online journalism in Colombia, the Consejo de Redacción, or Newsroom Council, (CdR in Spanish) looked at who is producing online journalism in this South American country and how. The report found that since Colombia first connected to the Internet on July 4, 1994, online media have become "the protagonists of a quiet revolution in Colombia."

The report, Digital Journalism in Colombia, examined 391 websites in collaboration with Centro Ático, the first Center of Information and Communication Technology Resource in Latin America, and the School of Communication and Language from Javeriana University.

Germán Rey and Carlos Eduardo Huertas, the authors of the study, noted that "online journalism in Colombia is strongly differentiated from traditional journalism. It emphasizes a local perspective and places importance on the regions. It is concerned with developing its own stories, establishes a closer, more active relationship with the readers and audiences, explores niches, places importance on quality journalism, and relates with different sectors of society, seeing these less as sources and much more as partners."

Among the report's findings are that 74% of the country's news websites in 2010 appeared since 2001; only 88 were online-only and the rest were digital versions of traditional media outlets; only 25 sites were of television media; and the most frequently used sites to publicize content and direct traffic were YouTube (69%), Facebook (58%) and Twitter (56%).

The report also highlights the individual experiences of 10 noteworthy news sites, including La Silla Vacía (The Empty Chair), VerdadAbierta (Open Truth), El País Vallenato, and PrimeraPágina (Front Page).

Looking to the future, Colombia's digital media face challenges of financing and sustainability, as well as the need to increase interactivity with readers and take better advantage of the Internet's multimedia possibilities, the report noted.